CHINESE president Xi Jinping said it was “extremely crucial” to take every possible measure to combat a new coronavirus outbreak that has infected 217 people in the country.

His remarks came the same day the country reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected by the form of viral pneumonia, including the first cases in the capital.

Health authorities in Wuhan, where the virus appears to have originated, said an additional 136 cases have been confirmed, totalling 198 infected patients in the city. As of the weekend, a third patient had died.