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Pneumonia virus spreads to Beijing and Shenzhen, China confirms 139 new cases

12:25 | 20/01/2020

Chinese media on Monday (Jan 20) reported cases of Wuhan pneumonia for the first time out of the city where the cases were first discovered. Two cases in  Beijing, one in Guangdong.    

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pneumonia virus spreads to beijing and shenzhen china confirms 139 new cases
The outbreak is centred around the central city of Wuhan. Photo:AFP/STR

The country reported a third death and 139 new cases of pneumonia over the weekend, caused by the outbreak of a new coronavirus strain.

Officials also confirmed the virus had been detected in Beijing and Guangdong, marking the first instances of the illness spreading beyond Wuhan.

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.

In Guangdong, a 66-year-old man in Shenzhen was quarantined on Jan 11 after contracting a fever and showing other symptoms following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan, the provincial health commission said in a statement.

"Experts believe that the current epidemic situation is still preventable and controllable," the Guangdong health commission said.

Separately, China's eastern province of Zhejiang on Monday reported that five patients are in quarantine for respiratory illness but the diagnosis is not confirmed yet.

The patients are in stable condition and their close contacts have been placed under medical observation, said Zhejiang province's health commission.

In Wuhan, the local health commission said 136 new cases were found over the weekend, without giving details about the person who died.

Among the new cases in the city, 66 are male and 70 are female, ranging in age between 25 and 89 years old. Their symptoms included fever, coughing or tightness of the chest and breathing difficulties, a statement from the health commission said.

A total of 201 people have now been diagnosed with the virus across China. In Wuhan, 170 people are still being treated at hospitals, including nine in critical condition. No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, but Wuhan's health commission has previously said the possibility 'cannot be excluded'.

China, the World Health Organization (WHO) and authorities across the globe are stepping up efforts to contain the virus, which initially emerged in Wuhan in late December as a wave of pneumonia patients.

Three cases have been confirmed abroad - two in Thailand and one in Japan - involving people who recently visited Wuhan.

Many of China's 1.4 billion people will travel domestically and abroad during the Chinese New Year break that begins this week, raising concerns about the virus spreading to other countries.

The virus belongs in the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak in China.

Though some experts say the new virus may not be as deadly as SARS, there is still little known about it including its origin and how easily it can be transmitted between humans.

WHO said on Sunday that some of the new cases appear not to be linked to the Huanan seafood market, believed to be the centre of the outbreak.

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./.

VNF/CNA