China reports 908 deaths amid more than 40,000 cases of coronavirus within its borders

Britain has authorized the forcible isolation of those suspected with the illness

WHO said it is monitoring 10 provinces outside the epicenter for signs of the virus

European health ministers on Monday prepared for an emergency meeting to address the coronavirus outbreak as the official death toll approached 1,000 and the World Health Organization warned the outbreak could be even worse than has been reported so far.

China’s health commission said during the weekend the death toll from the virus had hit 910 – all but two in China -- surpassing the death toll from SARS, which also began in China and killed 813 people worldwide in 2002-03. More than 40,000 have been sickened in China with the number of cases outside the mainland topping 440.

While SARS was estimated to have a 10% fatality rate, statistics indicate the fatality rate for the coronavirus is less than half that: 4.9% in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, but just 2.1% across China. WHO said more than 80% of the cases so far have been mild while 6,500 cases are described as severe.

Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner for crisis management, said the coronavirus outbreak is threatening the more than $1.1 billion in daily trade between the European Union and China, the EU’s second largest trading partner, second only to the United States.

Danish analytics firm Sea-Intelligence said the shipping container business is losing about $351.5 million a week as a result of the virus, mainly due to a drop in shipping out of China.

“It is possible though that before things get better, they could still get somewhat worse,” Lenarcic said in Brussels, adding the focus should be on public health measures rather than the supply-chain disruptions caused by the virus.

The EU has contributed $11 million toward vaccine research. EU health ministers were to meet Thursday to address the virus, which Lenarcic said represented a “serious danger for public health.”

British health officials Monday raised the risk level for infection to moderate and introduced regulations calling for the forced isolation of anyone suspected of infection.

“I will do everything in my power to keep people in this country safe. We are taking every possible step to control the outbreak of coronavirus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

As of Monday, the U.K. had tested 1,114 people for the virus, with 1,006 testing positive.

WHO said it is closely monitoring 10 Chinese provinces outside Wuhan and Hubei province for signs of outbreak. Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said Sunday WHO experts would be allowed into China “very soon.”

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an advance team was dispatched Sunday afternoon. He also urged countries to step up containment efforts, adding the spread of the virus may be wider than has so far been detected.

Some 400 experts were scheduled to meet in Geneva this week in a bid to accelerate research.