The death toll from the new Coronavirus outbreak rose again on Tuesday with 98 deaths, taking the total to 1,868 in 31 provincial-level regions and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Among the new deaths, 93 were in Hubei province, three in Henan, and one each in Hebei and Hunan, according to the National Health Commission.

Meanwhile, the director of a hospital in Wuhan, the city at the centre of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, is among those who died on Tuesday. Zhiming, a neurosurgeon, is the first hospital head to die of the Coronavirus infection.

More than 72,000 people have been infected by the virus in China, with hundreds of more cases in some 25 countries.

However, Chinese and international health officials sought to calm global nerves, citing a study showing most cases are mild and warning against excessive measures to contain the epidemic.

Authorities have placed about 56 million people in hard-hit central Hubei under an unprecedented lockdown. Other cities far from the epicentre have restricted the movements of residents, while Beijing ordered people arriving in the capital to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.

Several countries have banned arrivals from China and major airlines have cut services with the country.

However, the epidemic has continued to spread across China. There have been some 900 cases around the world, with only five deaths outside the mainland — in France, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, another 88 people tested positive for the deadly virus on the quarantined Diamond Prince cruise ship off Yokohama in Japan, raising the number of infections to 542. The quarantined ship has the biggest cluster of infections outside China.

Since the US repatriated more than 300 American passengers on Monday, Britain became the latest country to offer its citizens a way off the boat, after similar plans by Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea.

(With agency inputs)