Beijing: Chinese health authorities on Tuesday said that the national coronavirus mortality rate of 2.1 per cent would drop further with the mobilisation of suitable treatments and medical resources, as the death toll in the country increased to 425, with 20,438 confirmed cases.

Addressing the media here, Jiao Yahui, Deputy Director of China’s National Health and Health Commission said that, as of Monday, the national fatality rate, based on confirmed cases nationwide, was 2.1 per cent, with the vast majority of deaths in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, the South China Morning Post reported.

The central Chinese province has reported 414 fatalities or 97 per cent of China’s total death toll.

According to Jiao, the mortality rate in the provincial capital Wuhan has reached 4.9 per cent, with 313 deaths so far. The mortality rate for Hubei is 3.1 per cent, the highest of any province in the country.

Jiao said China had taken further measures to bring down the mortality rate in Hubei, especially Wuhan, with another 1,000 beds for critical cases concentrated in hospitals with ICU capabilities and medical teams with relevant experience in handling the critical respiratory disease.

“With all these measures, I think the mortality rate in Wuhan will reduce further,” Jiao said.

In its daily report on Tuesday morning, the Commission said that 221,015 close contacts had been traced, adding that among them, 12,755 were discharged on Monday, with 171,329 were others still under medical observation.

Also on Tuesday, Hong Kong reported its first coronavirus death, making it the third country after China and the Philippines to report fatalities.

The number of deaths in China now exceeds the 349 killed on the mainland in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002-03.

Wuhan’s first makeshift military hospital, built specifically to care for coronavirus patients, started taking in its first batch of 50 patients on Tuesday morning, in a first step to relieve the quarantined city’s overburdened hospitals, said the South China Morning Post.

Constructed in eight days and formally handed over to military control on Sunday, the Huoshenshan hospital is being operated by a total of 1,400 army medical personnel.

A second temporary hospital, Leishenshan, is also going up at top speed in the city and is expected to be operational on Wednesday.

The other countries where coronavirus cases have been reported are Japan (20), Thailand (19), Singapore (18), South Korea (15), Hong Kong (15), Australia (12), Taiwan (11), the US (11), Germany (10), Malaysia (eight), Macao (eight), Vietnam (eight), France (six), UAE (five), Canada (four), Italy (two), the UK (two), India (two), Philippines (two), Russia (two), Cambodia (one), Finland (one), Nepal (one), Sri Lanka (one), Spain (one) and Sweden (one).