A SARS-like virus is spreading around China and three other Asian countries, according to AFP. The new corona virus strain, first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in the year 2002 and 2003.
Wuhan has about 11 million inhabitants and serves as a major transport hub, including during the annual Lunar New Year holiday, which begins later this week and sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel across the country to visit family.
A third person was confirmed to have died and 136 new cases were found over the weekend in Wuhan, the local health commission said, taking the total number of people to have been diagnosed with the virus in China to 201.
South Korea on Monday reported its first case — a 35-year-old woman who flew in from Wuhan.
Thailand and Japan have previously confirmed a total of three cases — all of whom had visited the Chinese city.
No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, but authorities have previously said the possibility “cannot be excluded”.
Health authorities in Beijing’s Daxing district said two people who had travelled to Wuhan were treated for pneumonia linked to the virus and are in stable condition.
Five other people have been put in isolation and tested in eastern Zhejiang province.
Scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London warned in a paper published Friday that the number of cases in the city was likely to be closer to 1,700, much higher than the number officially identified.