Russia says it has received the genome of the coronavirus from China and is working jointly with its neighbor to develop a vaccine against the illness as the number of deaths and confirmed cases continues to jump.
Chinese authorities said on January 29 that there are 5,974 confirmed cases nationwide in the country, from which 132 people have died.
Another 9,239 suspected cases of the respiratory illness are being monitored, the government's National Health Commission said on January 29.
Dozens of cases have been confirmed outside mainland China as well, including in Europe, North America, the Middle East, and elsewhere in Asia, prompting Russia, which has no confirmed cases, to join the race to stop the illness.
'Russian and Chinese experts have begun developing a vaccine,' the Russian consulate in China's Guangzhou Province said in a statement on its website.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it believes China is able to contain the coronavirus, but mounting concern over the jump in cases has prompted hundreds of foreign nationals to leave the provincial capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The total number of confirmed cases now surpasses that of SARS, another respiratory illness that killed more than 600 people worldwide in 2002-2003.
Symptoms of the new kind of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Authorities have sealed off access to 17 cities in Hubei Province, where the pathogen is believed to have originated and was first reported in December.
Australia plans to quarantine its 600 returning citizens for two weeks on Christmas Island, some 2,000 kilometers from the mainland.
The European Union as well as countries including the United States, Japan, and South Korea are also repatriating their nationals.
British Airways has suspended bookings on its website for direct flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai until March.
The World Health Organization has recognized the outbreak as a national emergency but stopped short of declaring it an international one.
With reporting by South China Morning Post, AP, AFP, Reuters, and TASS
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