February 19, 2020 - 12:01 AMT
Death toll from coronavirus rises above 2000 worldwide

The coronavirus epidemic topped two benchmarks on Tuesday, February 18, according to new numbers released by Chinese officials. With the 136 new deaths and 1,749 new cases reported, the global death toll of the virus climbed above 2,000, and the total number of confirmed cases rose to more than 75,000, CNBC reports.

All but five of the deaths, and the vast majority of cases, occurred in mainland China.

One of the most recent fatalities in the central Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, was the director of a hospital in the city of Wuhan, who succumbed to the disease at the age of 51.

The virus only proves fatal, according to current data, in about 2% of people infected, with the risks increasing significantly for patients of older age. But infectious disease experts have spoken up to say that figure might actually be lower — the disease could be less deadly — because there could be thousands of undetected infections around the world, many of them mild or even asymptomatic.