Death toll from China’s coronavirus outbreak hits 18

At least 18 people have died and nearly 650 are confirmed to be infected by an outbreak of a new respiratory virus in China, according to a Chinese health-care information sharing platform.

Ding Xiang Yuan reports 644 people have been infected since the of the novel coronavirus first surfaced last month in Wuhan, the capital of central 's Hubei Province.

It has spread to major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, however, the number of cases in Hubei reached 444 as of Thursday.

Ding Xiang Yuan also reported 30 patients have so far been cured.

Chinese health officials confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the U.S. have confirmed cases of the virus while Australia is testing one person for it.

North Korea has temporarily closed its borders with China as a precaution after the outbreak, according to Yonhap news agency.

Authorities in Wuhan shut down public transport in a bid to prevent outbreak of the fatal virus.

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