BEIJING: Mainland China had 19 new cases of coronavirus infections on Monday (Mar 9), the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, down from 40 cases a day earlier.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,754.

The death toll from the outbreak in China reached 3,136 as of the end of Monday, up by 17 from the previous day.

The central province of Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 17 new deaths, all of which were in the provincial capital of Wuhan.

READ: China closes makeshift hospitals as COVID-19 cases plunge

New infections in China have been generally declining in recent weeks as the country’s measures appear to be working.

A senior government official hinted last week that China could soon lift the lockdown on Hubei province imposed in late January, which has effectively restricted the movement of about 56 million people in Hubei.

READ: Threat of coronavirus pandemic now ‘very real’: WHO

The disease has spread to more than 100 countries and infected tens of thousands of people around the world.

The World Health Organization warned on Monday there was now a “very real” threat that the new coronavirus outbreak will become a pandemic, but stressed the virus could still be controlled.

After global COVID-19 infections passed the 100,000-mark, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that “the threat of a pandemic has become very real”.

The WHO defines a pandemic as a situation in which “the whole world’s population would likely be exposed to this infection and potentially a proportion of them fall sick,” Ryan has said.

“Pandemic” is not an official WHO term, and it does not trigger any specific actions. WHO has already put out its highest level of alert – saying the world is at “high risk”.

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