China reports major drop in new virus cases, 143 new deaths

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Pedestrians wear protective masks as they walk through a shopping district in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Japan’s government said Thursday a man treated for pneumonia after returning from China has tested positive for the new coronavirus identified as a possible cause of an outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BEIJING (AP) – China has reported 2,641 new virus cases as it escalates measures to contain the outbreak and reassure an anxious public.

The figure is a major drop from the higher numbers in recent days since a broader diagnostic method was implemented.

The number of new deaths rose slightly, to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523.

The number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492.

Saturday marks the second day the number of new cases fell since a spike Thursday, when the hardest-hit Hubei province began including clinical diagnoses.

People returning to Beijing were told to quarantine themselves for observation.

And a team of experts led by the World Health Organization is due to begin its mission in China this weekend.

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