The daily death toll from the rapidly spreading coronavirus hit a record high in China on Thursday, health authorities said, with 43 more fatalities – 42 of them in Hubei province, the outbreak's epicentre.

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Of the newly reported deaths, 30 were in Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan, where the virus was first reported, according to the Hubei health commission. The other death was in Heilongjiang province, in the country's northeast, as Thursday's toll took the total number of deaths nationwide to 213, with none so far reported outside mainland China, South China Morning Post reported.

A total of 1,982 new cases were confirmed on the mainland on Thursday, bringing the country's total to 9,692, far exceeding that of the 2002-03 Sars epidemic, which killed almost 800 people worldwide.