China says it's facing 'war' against virus as death toll tops 1,100

China's leadership on Wednesday touted "positive results" from efforts to contain the new coronavirus epidemic but warned it still faced a "large-scale war" against the outbreak as the death toll climbed past 1,100.

President Xi Jinping chaired a meeting of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee after figures showed that the number of new cases dropped for the second straight day, fuelling hopes the epidemic could peak later this month. Xi said there were "positive results" but warned that the country "must not relax" its epidemic control efforts, according to state media, as authorities have kept tens of millions of people under lockdown.

China still faces a "large-scale war" and a "big test," said state broadcaster CCTV in a readout of the gathering. Authorities said on Wednesday another 97 people had died in China, raising the national toll to 1,113, while more than 44,600 people had been infected by the newly named COVID-19 virus.

The number of people infected on a cruise ship off Japan, meanwhile, rose to 174 — the biggest cluster outside the Chinese mainland. The World Health Organization has called the epidemic a "very grave threat."

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