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First death from China mystery illness outbreak

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A 61-year-old man has died from pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in an outbreak of a yet to be identified virus while seven others are in critical condition, Wuhan health authorities say.

In total 41 people have been diagnosed with the pathogen, which preliminary lab tests cited by Chinese state media earlier this week pointed to a new type of coronavirus, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on Saturday in a statement on its website.

Two of them have been discharged from hospital and the rest are in stable condition, while 739 people deemed to have been in close contact with the patients have been cleared, it said.

The man, the first victim of the outbreak that began in December.

No new cases had been detected since 3 January, the commission added.

The Wuhan health authority also said the patients were mainly vendors and buyers at a seafood market in the city, and that to date no medical staff had been infected, nor had clear evidence of human-to-human transmission been found.

The World Health Organisation said on Thursday that a newly emerging member of the family of viruses that caused the deadly outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) could be the cause of the present outbreak.


China says the illness is not Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), nor Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome), both of which are caused by coronaviruses, and so far it appears milder than both. Unlike Sars, it does not appear to spread easily between humans and unlike Mers, which has a mortality rate of about 35%, nobody has died.

But the identification in preliminary laboratory tests by the Chinese of a novel coronavirus emerging once more from animals to infect humans is worrying for global health experts. When Sars appeared in China in 2002, it was not swiftly identified and contained. It spread around the world – particularly to Canada – via travellers.


Read more via The Guardian

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