The coronavirus death toll in China has risen to 811, surpassing the death toll from the SARS epidemic of 2002-3, according to official data released early Sunday.
The number of confirmed infections rose to 37,198, according to China’s National Health Commission. Eighty-nine deaths and 2,656 new cases were recorded in the preceding 24 hours, most of them in Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.
The SARS epidemic, which also began in China, killed 774 people worldwide.
Many doctors believe that deaths and infections from the current epidemic in China are undercounted because testing facilities at hospitals and laboratories are under severe strain.
The number of new cases confirmed in the country has stabilized in recent days, but World Health Organization officials cautioned against reading too much into those numbers, saying that Wuhan and Hubei Province were still in the midst of a “very intense outbreak.”
“It’s very, very early to make any predictions,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the W.H.O.’s health emergencies program. “This is still a very, very intense outbreak in Wuhan and Hubei.”