China coronavirus: 136 new cases confirmed in Wuhan as virus spreads and third person dies

Jacob Jarvis
AFP via Getty Images

The number of people infected with a deadly Chinese virus has spiked with more than 200 cases confirmed and a third person confirmed to have died.

The virus has been likened to SARS, which killed nearly 800 people in 2002, and been detected in 198 patients in Wuhan, where it appears to have originated.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said 136 new cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus strain had been found in the city over the weekend, adding to 62 already known cases. A third death occurred on Saturday, the authority said in a statement.

This brings the total number of known cases worldwide to more than 200.

A seafood market in Wuhan has been closed for an investigation, with many of the illnesses having been linked to the site.

Authorities in Japan and Thailand have identified three cases, one in the former and two in the latter, while South Korea became the latest country to confirm an infection.

A rescue worker walks past a notice about the virus that has broken out in China (REUTERS)

All those cases have been linked to patients who recently travelled to China.

Experts have said the current outbreak is "preventable and controllable", China's National Health Commission said.

Quarantine notice: Health authorities have placed warnings about coughing or fever symptoms (REUTERS)

A statement on Sunday read: "However, the source of the new type of coronavirus has not been found, we do not fully understand how the virus is transmitted, and changes in the virus still need to be closely monitored."

Health authorities have suggested the virus is not easily transmitted between humans, though it has not ruled out limited human-to-human transmission.

South Korea confirmed its first case on Monday, stating the patient is a 35-year-old Chinese woman and resident of Wuhan who flew from Wuhan to Incheon international airport on Sunday.

She was isolated on entering South Korea, with symptoms including high fever, and South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said: "The confirmed patient was identified in the quarantine phase and there is no community exposure. Those that have come in contact, including passengers and aircraft crew, are currently being investigated."

Hundreds of millions of Chinese tourists will be travelling domestically and abroad during the Lunar New Year holiday period that starts later this week.

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