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That brings the total infected across China to more than 44,000.

"The number of newly confirmed cases reported from China has stabilized over the past week, but that must be interpreted with extreme caution", said WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

(From left) World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme head Michael Ryan, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Chair of Emergency Committee on Ebola Robert Steffen attend a combined news conference following as two-day global conference on COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine research and a meeting to decide whether Ebola in DR Congo still constitutes health emergency of worldwide concern on January 12, 2020 in Geneva.

The head of the WHO Health Emergencies programme said the stabilization of cases in China was reassuring, as was the apparently less aggressive and less accelerated behavior of the virus outside of Hubei Province.

Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at China's National Health Commission, had said on Tuesday he thought the outbreak would peak in mid- to late-February.

It has also disrupted sporting events in China: motorsport's governing body FIA announced the suspension of the Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, originally scheduled for April 19, due to the "continued spread" of the coronavirus.

The announcement came during the World Health Organization daily media briefing on the current COVID-19 epidemic.

To date, two cases of the virus have been confirmed in babies, including a newborn diagnosed just 36 hours after birth.

There was a happy ending in sight for another cruise ship, the MS Westerdam, which Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines had refused to let dock over fears one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew might have the virus. Japan now has 203 confirmed cases, the largest number outside of mainland China.

So far, 14 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the USA prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn that they expect the virus to "take a foothold in the U.S". After the mistake was uncovered, the patient was returned to the quarantine at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California.

Two cases of the virus have been reported in Russian Federation.

A large cluster of cases in Tianjin, a port city southeast of Beijing, has been traced to a department store, Chinese state media said.

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