The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic surged past 1,500 on Saturday after 143 more people died in the country, according to official data. The National Health Commission also reported 2,641 new cases of the COVID-19 strain, with the vast majority in hard-hit central Hubei province. More than 66,000 people have now been infected in China from an illness that emerged in the Hubei capital Wuhan in December and spread nationwide a month later.
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