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AFP
January 18, 2020

Second person dies from SARS-linked virus in China

World

AFP
January 18, 2020

BEIJING: A second person has died in China from a mysterious SARS-linked virus that has stricken dozens and appeared in two other Asian countries, with a new case reported in Thailand on Friday.

Local authorities said a 69-year-old man died on Wednesday in Wuhan, the central Chinese city believed to be the epicentre of an outbreak of a coronavirus from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen.

No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, but Wuhan´s health commission has said the possibility "cannot be excluded". The enigmatic illness has caused alarm because of its connection to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Pneumonia linked to the new virus has hit at least 41 people in China, with the outbreak centred around a seafood market in Wuhan. Of these 12 have recovered and been discharged from hospital, according to the Wuhan health commission, while five others are in a serious condition.

The second man to die became sick on December 31 and his condition worsened two weeks ago, it said, with the disease causing pulmonary tuberculosis and damage to multiple organ functions. Three other cases have been detected -- two in Thailand and one in Japan -- with health managers in both countries saying the patients had visited Wuhan prior to their hospitalisation.

Thailand reported its second case of the coronavirus on Friday: a 74-year-old Chinese woman who had arrived from Wuhan earlier this week.

Her condition is improving, said Thai health officials, who urged people not to panic as there was "no spread of the virus" in the Southeast Asian country. The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday that "much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus". Not enough was known to "draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted," a statement added. The latest fatality comes as China prepares for its busiest travel season of the year next week, when millions of people take buses, trains and planes for Lunar New Year.