China reports third death as Coronavirus spreads to Beijing, other cities

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There are fears of a wider outbreak as travel rush for Chinese New Year peaks.

China on Monday reported a third death and more than 150 new cases of the mystery novel coronavirus including the first cases from Beijing and the highly populated provinces of Guangdong and Zhejiang, confirming fears that the virus was spreading within the country.

Of the new cases, 136 were detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel (a virus previously unknown) coronavirus – is said to be have originated.

The spread of the virus has sparked fears of a wider outbreak as the travel rush for the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays peaks this week.

More than three billion trips are expected to be made during a 40-day rush for the CNY holidays.

The surge in numbers announced by the Wuhan health commission on Sunday comes a day after a new analysis by UK scientists said more than 1700 could actually be infected with the “novel coronavirus”.

The third death was also reported from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, and a university city with a population nearly 11 million and thousands of foreign – including Indian – students.

The city has reported 198 cases so far.

As per a statement from the Wuhan health officials released late on Sunday night, at present 170 patients were still in hospital, including “126 cases of light illness, 35 cases of severe illness and 9 cases of critical illness”.

Health authorities from Beijing’s southern Daxing district said two people – with a history of recent travel to the city of Wuhan – were confirmed to have the new coronavirus infection.

They had been isolated in a designated hospital and were in a stable condition. Doctors had also carried out checks on close contacts of the two, and did not find, until now, any symptoms of the disease.

In Guangdong, a 66-year-old man in Shenzhen was quarantined on January 11 after contracting a fever and showing other symptoms following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan, the provincial health commission said in a statement.

At least eight other people suspected of having contracted the virus are under medical observation and treatment in Shenzhen.

Five new cases of the infection have been reported from the eastern province of Zhejiang.

“Since January 17, five cases of patients with respiratory symptoms such as fever have been found in Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Taizhou and Hangzhou of Zhejiang province, all of whom have been isolated and treated in designated hospitals and are in stable conditions,” the Zhejiang health authorities said in a statement, carried in state media, adding that their close contacts have been put under medical observation.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday that the pneumonia originating in Wuhan caused by a new type of coronavirus was “preventable and controllable”.

Chinese observers, according to state media, noted although the source and transmission route of the epidemic was not yet fully understood, the government has proposed many preventative measures and China’s notification mechanism for epidemic prevention and control has greatly improved especially since the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in Japan and Thailand.

According to Chinese state media, at least 90 suspected cases have been reported in Hong Kong, while Singapore and Vietnam have also discovered suspected cases.

Chinese health authorities said last week it is possible that the new coronavirus which has sparked fears of an outbreak as hundreds of millions begin travelling in China and outside for the CNY holidays could be passed through human contact but the risk of person-to-person transmission is low.