China Coronavirus cases overtake SARS, evacuations begin

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China has outstripped that of the 2007 SARS epidemic.

Cases in China rose overnight to a total of 5974. The number of cases in China has already surpassed the number of Chinese cases in the SARS epidemic by 647.

The number of deaths in China from coronavirus also spiked overnight, rising from 106 to 132.

More than a decade ago SARS killed over 770 people across the world, with 349 of those in mainland China.

Australia has begun to evacuate its citizens trapped Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease.

New Zealand will partner with Australia to evacuate its citizens in what Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called "very much an ANZAC operation".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the plan in a statement on Wednesday.

"I spoke with Prime Minister Morrison again this afternoon and we have confirmed that we will work together on a joint ANZAC assisted departure of Australians and New Zealanders from Wuhan," she said.

Australia has announced it will quarantine citizens on Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean which also serves as a detention centre for refugees.

Wuhan is on lockdown as the disease runs rampant - more than 15 million people are trapped with no end in sight.

The disease causes respiratory distress and can cause organ failure in severe cases. After originating in a live food market in Wuhan, the virus quickly mutated so it could spread via human-to-human transmission.

This week, the first cases which did not originate in China were reported in Germany.

Four people from the same company contracted the disease after one of them caught it from a colleague while visiting them in China, reports The Guardian. 

For preventative measures, the World Health Organization recommends thoroughly and regularly washing hands, covering your mouth and nose while you sneeze, and avoiding close contact with people who appear sick.