Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday declared a "people's war" on the coronavirus outbreak, whose death toll grows by the day.
"The whole country has responded with all its strength to respond with the most thorough and strict prevention and control measures, starting a people's war for epidemic prevention and control," China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying.
Officials in Hubei province, where the outbreak began, reported 69 new deaths early Friday, pushing the total number of fatalities from the virus past 600. They also reported 2,500 new cases, taking that number to more than 31,000, Xinhua reported.
The World Health Organization said it was too early to confirm one Chinese official's belief that the outbreak was about to peak.
There were about 150 confirmed cases in 23 other countries, including one death in the Philippines — the first outside China — and one death in Hong Kong.
The whistleblowing Chinese doctor who tried to raise the alarm about the outbreak died in Wuhan. Li Wenliang, 34, was declared dead early Friday morning local time, according to the Global Times, a Communist Party-controlled newspaper.
Police had accused Li of “spreading rumors online” and “severely disrupting social order.”
The cases so far include 41 new cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, moored off Japan, bringing the total to 61 confirmed cases, who were moved to hospitals in Tokyo and other towns, the health ministry said, Reuters reported. Roughly 3,700 people face a 14-day quarantine aboard the ship. The virus' incubation period lasts 14 days.
About 3,600 passengers are stuck aboard another ship off Hong Kong, with three cases on board. A third cruise ship, the Holland America's Westerdam, has been turned away by Japan and by Guam. It is seeking another port.
Hong Kong has shut down nearly all land and sea border crossings with the Chinese mainland after more than 2,000 medical workers walked off the job earlier this week.
Taiwan announced Thursday that it was banning all international cruise ships from docking at the island.
The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency and is appealing for $675 million to fight the virus.