Coronavirus latest: Death toll from outbreak rises to 17

Stephanie Cockroft, Tim Baker
Health officials wear face masks at an inspection site at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang: AP

The death toll from China's coronavirus has risen to 17, according to state television.

The figures came from the provincial government, which confirmed 444 total cases of the coronavirus .

All the deaths happened in the Hubei region. The virus is thought to have originated in Wuhan, the capital of the province.

The previously reported death toll in China was nine.

A handful of cases have been identified abroad, including in Japan and the US, but there have been no reported cases in the UK.

Mexico has also reported a possible case.

Airports around the world are checking travellers for symptoms of the SARS like virus (AP)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) looks set to declare an international public health emergency over the virus.

It came as the UK government announced that all direct flights from Wuhan to Heathrow will be subjected to enhanced monitoring.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said precautionary measures are being put in place after cases of the virus spread to other parts of the world.

There are three direct flights a week from Wuhan in China to Heathrow Airport. One is set to land at around 6pm on Wednesday.

Under the new measures, the captain of each flight will tell passengers during landing to let a flight attendant know if they feel unwell.

The shares in companies making surgical masks in gloves have risen with the news of the outbreak (AP)

These details will then be passed on to public health teams at the airport who will carry out further checks.

There are no plans to introduce blanket temperature screening of all passengers, a spokesman for the DHSC said, as the incubation period for the illness can be as long as five days.

But all passengers on each flight will be given a leaflet explaining how they can seek help if they become unwell while in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) has also upgraded the risk to the UK population from coronavirus from "very low" to "low"

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