China reports 139 new cases of pneumonia, 3rd death as coronavirus spreads

An outbreak of coronavirus in China has spread to more cities, Chinese authorities reported on Monday, with 139 new cases found over the weekend as well a third reported death.

The Daxing health commission in the capital Beijing said it had confirmed two cases of coronavirus, while the southern Guangdong province’s health commission confirmed one case in Shenzhen.

The new cases, the first inside China outside the central city of Wuhan where the virus was first reported, come as the country gears up for the Lunar New Year holidays later this week, when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel domestically and abroad.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement that 136 new cases of coronavirus had been discovered in the city on Saturday and Sunday.

As of late Sunday, 198 cases in total had been reported in Wuhan, including three deaths. Some 170 people were still being treated in the hospital, while 25 had been cured, it said. The statement gave no further details of the latest death toll.

Outside China, two cases have been reported in Thailand and one in Japan, all involving people from Wuhan or who recently visited the city.

Beijing said on Sunday it will increase efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, while health authorities around the world are working to prevent its spread.

The U.S. announced on Friday officials will begin screening travellers coming from Wuhan at three major airports — New York City’s JFK International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told CBC News in an email on Sunday that “the overall risk of disease spread to Canada is considered low,” noting there are no direct flights from Wuhan to Canada.

PHAC added that it will be “implementing additional measures” in the coming week, including warning signs at airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

A traveller wears a facemask at the Beijing Railway Station on Friday. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press)

The virus belongs in the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China.

In Canada, 44 people died, many of them healthcare workers.

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.

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