Britain says death toll from new coronavirus in China likely to rise

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s health minister said on Thursday that the number of cases of new coronavirus is likely to be higher than confirmed so far so the death toll will probably rise further.

“All the fatalities have so far been contained to mainland China, however, this is a rapidly developing situation and the number of deaths and the number of cases is likely to be higher than those that have been confirmed so far and I expect them to rise further,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament.

“A small number of cases of the new coronavirus have now been detected in other countries including Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States,” Hancock said.

China put on lockdown on Thursday two cities at the epicentre of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 people and infected nearly 600, as health authorities around the world scramble to prevent a global pandemic.

“There are no confirmed cases of this new infection in the UK so far,” Hancock said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; writing by Elizabeth Howcroft; editing by Andrew MacAskill