An outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December and has since spread to more than 20 countries around the world.

The number of people who have died from novel coronavirus in mainland China has reached 1,868, 72,436 people have been infected and more than 12,500 recovered so far, the Chinese state health committee. The number of confirmed cases has reached 72,436, it added.

In Hubei province, the death toll from the novel virus reached 1,789 on 17 February, the regional health committee reported on Monday. 93 new deaths were confirmed in the province. 1,807 new cases were registered, of which 1,600 were in Wuhan alone. A total of 7,862 patients were discharged from hospitals.

"As of 24:00 on 17 February 2020, Hubei Province has reported a total of 59,989 new coronavirus pneumonia cases, of which 42,752 are in Wuhan. The province has accumulated 1,789 fatalities, of which 1,381 are in Wuhan", the statement said.

The virus is thought to have originated at a "wet market" in Wuhan.

Chinese authorities confirmed earlier the new coronavirus could be transmitted from person to person causing severe pneumonia.

Outside China, cases of new coronavirus have already been registered in more than 20 countries, at least three people have died so far.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global health emergency over the outbreak in late January.