China coronavirus: Second death from SARS-like virus as new case discovered in Thailand

faA second person has died after new virus linked to SARS caused an outbreak of pneumonia in China.

A 69-year-old man surnamed Xiong fell ill with the respiratory condition on 31 December and died on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on Thursday.

Some 41 people in Wuhan have been diagnosed with a novel coronavirus, a family of viruses that can cause both the common cold and more severe diseases such as SARS and MERS.

It come as a second patient in Thailand and another in Japan were diagnosed with the virus.

Xiong is the second person to die during the outbreak after a 61-year-old man who had abdominal tumours and chronic liver disease died last Saturday.

Xiong exhibited abnormal renal function, severe impairment in multiple organs, inflammation of the heart muscle and other pressing conditions when he was admitted to hospital.

It was not clear from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission’s statement whether these were pre-existing issues or consequences of the viral pneumonia.

As of Thursday, 12 of the 41 patients have been cured and discharged while five were being treated for acute conditions.

Authorities have tracked more than 700 people who were in close contact with infected patients, though no related cases have been found among them.

However, the commission has not ruled out limited human-to-human transmission, revealing a woman may have contracted the virus from her husband.

The Chinese government is keen to avoid a repeat of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. The SARS epidemic began in southern China in late 2002, then spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people.

Most of the coronavirus patients this time either worked at or visited a particular seafood market in Wuhan. The market has since been shut down for investigation and disinfection.

A 74-year-old tourist was intercepted at a Thai airport on 13 January with symptoms of lung infection, the country’s public health ministry said on Friday.

She is being treated in the same hospital, east of Bangkok, as a Chinese woman who was diagnosed with the virus after entering the country last week.

The Chinese woman is getting better and will soon be released, said Sukhum Kanchanapimai, Thailand’s permanent secretary for public health.

Japan’s health ministry said on Thursday the virus had been confirmed in a man who had been hospitalised in Japan with pneumonia symptoms after travelling to Wuhan earlier this month. His condition has improved. Kyodo News agency reported the man is Chinese.

Authorities in Thailand have been ramping up checks on Chinese visitors as nearly a million are expected to visit the country for the Lunar New Year holiday next week.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the virus could spread in a statement on Thursday, adding: “Considering global travel patterns, additional cases in other countries are likely.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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