Last week WiC wrote about an unidentified pneumonia that sickened 59 people in the central city of Wuhan. Since publication news has emerged that two men have died from the illness (the most recent a 69 year-old man on January 15). Xinhua published the news of the first on Saturday morning, 36 hours after the 61 year-old died. News of the second death came Thursday evening after the patient died Wednesday morning.
The World Health Organisation has yet to comment on the second death, but speaking Wednesday an official conceded that the virus may “in limited cases” have the ability to pass between humans. Previously it was thought people could only catch the illness – now known as 2019-nCov – from contact with animals or meat.
Xinhua confirmed that the virus – now named 2019-nCov – belongs to the Coronavirus family – the same family as SARS, which killed 744 people worldwide in 2003.
Meanwhile three case of the virus have emerged outside China in Thailand, Singapore and Japan.
The three people all visited Wuhan in recent weeks but none went to the Huanan South China seafood market – thought to be the only place people were getting sick.
“As the traveller did not report having visited the market linked to most of the other cases, it is vital that investigations continue to identify the source of the infection,” the WHO said in a statement about the woman being treated in Thailand.
The 36 year-old man in Japan has since been released from hospital, while a 69 year-old man in Singapore is still receiving treatment, the Straits Times said.
Chinese authorities said the first man to die from the virus had other underlying health issues. The second man died from “multi-organ system” failure Xinhua said, without saying if he had any pre-existing conditions.
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