The number of deaths from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 811 on Sunday after the hard-hit Hubei province reported more than 80 new fatalities, Mainland China have reported.

The toll is now higher than the global number of deaths caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, which killed 774 people in 2002-2003.

In the Hubei province alone, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, the death toll now is put at 780.

All but one of the overall total of 803 deaths have so far been in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Advertisement
People attend a vigil for Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
People attend a vigil for Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

In its daily update, Hubei's health commission also confirmed another 2,147 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

There are now more than 36,690 confirmed cases across China.

The World Health Organisation said Saturday that the number of cases being reported daily in China is "stabilising" – but cautioned that it was too early to say if the virus has peaked.

"The numbers could go up again … but the last two days were showing a declining trend," WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Earlier this week, however, scientific research predicted coronavirus cases in China will double every six days, with some experts suggesting it will never be contained.

The updated death toll comes as scientists on Friday found that diarrhoea may be a secondary path of transmission for the disease.

The primary path is believed to be virus-laden droplets from an infected person's cough, though researchers in early cases have said they focused heavily on patients with respiratory symptoms and may have overlooked those linked to the digestive tract.

The death of Li Wenliang has sparked an outpouring of anger in China. Photo / AP
The death of Li Wenliang has sparked an outpouring of anger in China. Photo / AP