Media reports says the coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 600 people and infected over 28,000 — the vast majority in China.  Close to 60 million people remain under lockdown in China, with three cities reporting more than 1,000 confirmed cases each.

Some media reports says the death toll from the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) has surged to 638.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported Friday 73 fatalities, 69 of which are in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak.

According to Xinhua, the commission recorded 3,143 new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 31,161 by the end of Thursday. 

Hubei province reported 2,447 new cases of novel coronavirus on February 6 with 618 fatalities while 817 recovered from the disease.

The commission said 314,028 close contacts had been traced, 26,762 of which were discharged from medical observation on Thursday, with 186,045 others still under medical observation.

CNN says the virus has spread to over 25 countries and territories, infected more than 250 and killed two people. Thousands of people are reportedly being quarantined on two cruise ships, docked in Japan and Hong Kong, after former passengers were confirmed to have the virus.

Xinhua reports that a total of 23 novel coronavirus pneumonia patients were cured and discharged from hospital on Thursday after integrated treatment with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine.

Meanwhile, the BBC says the death of a Chinese doctor who tried to issue warnings about the deadly coronavirus outbreak has sparked an unprecedented level of public anger and grief in China.

Li Wenliang reportedly died after contracting the virus himself while treating patients.

Last December he had sent out a message to fellow medics warning of a virus he thought looked like Sars.

Instead he was told by police to “stop making false comments” and was investigated for "spreading rumors".

News of his death was first met with an intense outpouring of grief on Chinese social media site Weibo - but this quickly turned into anger. 

There had already been accusation against the government of downplaying the severity of the virus and attempting to keep news of it secret.  Dr. Li's death has fuelled this further and triggered a conversation about the lack of freedom of speech in China.

The Chinese government had previously admitted to "shortcomings and deficiencies" in its response to the virus which has now killed 636 people and infected 31,161 in mainland China.