The global death toll from the new coronavirus passed 4,000 on Tuesday (March 10) according to AFP figures as China reported 17 new deaths. The toll reached 4,012 in the outbreak that has spread to over 100 countries with more than 110,000 cases of infection.

The epidemic has disrupted global travel and forced the cancellation of everything from conferences to sporting events. But in China, new cases have steadily declined in recent weeks, in a sign that the country’s unprecedented lockdown measures appear to be working.

There were just 19 fresh cases reported on Tuesday, the lowest number since the government started tallying infections on Jan 21, according to the National Health Commission. All the new infections were in the virus epicentre, the central city of Wuhan, except for two imported cases brought in from overseas. This means there were no indigenous cases in the rest of the country

The 17 new deaths were all in central Hubei province – 16 in Wuhan, the capital of the province – bringing the country’s nationwide toll to 3,136. It is the lowest daily toll since late January.

More than 80,750 people have now been infected in China, which has imposed unprecedented lockdown measures to try to control the spread of the virus. But fears are growing that as cases of the disease grow overseas, China’s progress could be undermined by the virus being brought back into the country from other nations.

The World Health Organisation said on Monday that more than 70 per cent of those infected with the new coronavirus in China have recovered, adding that the country was bringing its epidemic under control. There were tentative signs in recent days that some of the measures to restrict the movement and gathering of people could be lifted, with some regions reopening schools.

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