China's death toll from the new virus outbreak has risen by 89 to 811, surpassing the number of fatalities in the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, as other governments step up efforts to block the disease.

Some 2,656 new cases were reported, fewer than on the previous day, something experts see as a sign the virus's spread may be slowing.

SARS killed 774 people and sickened 8,098, mainly in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Elsewhere, France closed two schools after five British visitors contracted the virus at a ski resort. Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam reported one new case each.

Six more cases were reported on a quarantined cruise ship.