Coronavirus Epidemic Reaches Bleak Milestone, Exceeding SARS Toll

BEIJING — The coronavirus epidemic in China surpassed a grim milestone on Sunday with a death toll that exceeds that of the SARS outbreak 17 years ago, a development that coincided with news that World Health Organization experts might soon be in the country to help stanch the crisis.

The outbreak has killed at least 908 people in China in the month since the first death was reported in January in Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus emerged in December, apparently in a wholesale food market. Two people have died outside China.

The SARS crisis, which began in southern China in similar circumstances in 2002, ultimately killed 774 people worldwide over the course of several months.

The number of new deaths reported over the previous 24 hours — 97 — was the highest in China in a single day so far, according to figures announced Sunday by the country’s health commission. The number of infections over all in China now far exceeds that of SARS, rising above 40,100, compared with 8,000 then.

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