Startling Jump in Coronavirus Deaths over the Weekend Prompts World Health Organization Visit

Nearly 100 people died in one day from the coronavirus.

People wearing protective face masks walk along a street in Shanghai on February 10, 2020. Millions of people in China were returning to work on February 10 after an extended holiday designed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 900 people in the country. Photo: NOEL CELIS / Getty

A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) is finally being permitted to visit China the day after the country saw a record-breaking amount of people die from coronavirus.

On Sunday, 97 people were reported dead from the coronavirus, bringing the total to 908 deaths since the virus broke out in December, according to China’s National Health Commission. It is the highest number of people to die in one day since the epidemic began.

The new total surpasses the death toll of the 2002-03 SARS outbreak, which killed 774 people around the world.

There are now at least 40,134 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide.

Only two coronavirus deaths have been reported outside of mainland China: one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong. The majority of the deaths — at least 871 — have been in Wuhan, the capital city of the Hubei province where the disease broke out. Although, in the past few weeks, the cure rate in the province has substantially increased, according to the New York Times.

A 60-year-old American man has also died from the virus in a hospital in Wuhan on Saturday, the U.S. embassy confirmed to NBC News.

The WHO team is scheduled to land in China on Monday evening to begin its investigation and assist in the epidemic containment. The organization is concerned about the disease’s potential to spread between people who haven’t even visited China and its potential global impact.

“The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter.

WHO has offered to send a team to China since Dr. Tedros visited Beijing about two weeks ago. According to the New York Times, the offer has taken so long to be accepted because top Chinese officials did not want the world to believe they needed outside help in dealing with the outbreak.

Their visit also follows the death of the doctor who first detected the virus in Wuhan.

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