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AFP
January 12, 2020

China reports first death from pneumonia

World

AFP
January 12, 2020

SHANGHAI: China on Saturday said a 61-year-old man had become the first person to die from a respiratory illness believed caused by a new virus from the same family as SARS, which claimed hundreds of lives more than a decade ago.

Forty-one people with pneumonia-like symptoms have so far been diagnosed with the new virus in Wuhan, with one of the victims dying on Thursday, the central Chinese city’s health commission said on its website.

Seven others remained in serious condition, two were discharged from treatment, and the rest were stable, it added.

The episode has caused alarm due to the spectre of SARS, or Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which in 2002-2003 killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong, whose economy was hit hard by the epidemic’s devastating impact on tourism.

Chinese scientists investigating the outbreak said last week they believe the pathogen to be a previously unknown type of coronavirus, a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like SARS.

Scientists in Hong Kong’s Department of Health said on Saturday that genetic sequencing of the virus found in one of the Wuhan patients and published online by a Chinese expert indicated it was 80 percent similar to SARS found in bats.

Speaking at a news conference in Hong Kong, they said it was too early to conclude definitively that it was a SARS strain, adding that the city needed to stay vigilant.

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