China confirms 2nd death from new coronavirus

Beijing: China has confirmed a second death due to a new type of coronavirus in Wuhan city, health authorities said on Friday.

A 69-year-old man, whose case was confirmed on December 31, 2019 and whose condition worsened on January 4, died early Friday at Wuhan’s JinYinTan Hospital, announced the Municipal Health Commission of the city, which has 11 million inhabitants and is where the outbreak was detected last December, reports Efe news.

The man suffered from inflammation of the heart muscle, kidney failure and damage to organs, the commission said.

Tests showed abnormalities in heart function as well as irregularities in the lungs.

So far, 41 cases in China have been confirmed, out of which 12 patients have been treated and discharged, five remain in a critical condition and 119 people are being monitored.

At least three cases of the pneumonia-like illness have been detected in neighbouring countries: two in Thailand and another in Japan.

On Friday, Thailand’s public health ministry announced the second case in the country of a Chinese tourist just days after the first.

The unrelated cases are both women aged 74 and 61 travelling from Wuhan to Bangkok and who are now under medical care. The first woman detected with the illness earlier in the week has improved and shows no sign of fever, the ministry said, adding she will be released home once tests are clear.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday deployed a series of prevention measures in hospitals around the world to curb the risk of contagion of this new coronavirus.

Chinese laboratories have already sequenced the coronavirus genome and provided the data to the global health community to help diagnose possible cases outside the country, according to the WHO.

The outbreak has caused panic in China as the situation is reminiscent of 2003, when severe actute respiratory syndrome (SARS) spread across the country and caused a total of 646 deaths (813 worldwide), according to WHO figures.

According to the United Nations health agency, between 14 and 15 percent of SARS cases end in death, while in the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a related disease also caused by a coronavirus, the mortality rate rises to 35 percent.

So far, there are only six types of this family of viruses known: four of them causing mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, and the other two responsible for SARS and MERS.

The symptoms described for Wuhan pneumonia so far are fever and fatigue, accompanied by a dry cough and, in many cases, shortness of breath.

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