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2020-01-17 10:55:31

A 69-year-old man with underlying medical conditions has become the second casualty of a novel coronavirus that has infected dozens of people in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, according to local health officials.

The city’s health commission said Thursday that the patient, who died early Wednesday morning, was also suffering from heart, kidney, and lung conditions. Another patient, a 61-year-old man who had “serious underlying medical conditions,” had died on Jan. 9.

A total of 41 people in Wuhan have reportedly been infected with the novel coronavirus — the same virus family that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), both of which were ruled out for the recent cases — that is believed to have originated in the city’s South China Seafood Wholesale Market. However, health officials said they have also discovered a few cases among individuals who did not visit the market.

“Existing survey results show that clear human-to-human evidence has not been found, and the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out — though the risk of continued human-to-human transmission is low,” Wuhan’s health commission said Wednesday.

On Thursday, the health authority said 12 of the 41 infected had recovered and been discharged from hospital. Another five people are in critical condition, while more than 100 close contacts of those infected are under medical observation, with none reporting symptoms so far.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Nepal said Friday that a man who was quarantined on suspicion of being infected has been discharged, according to the Kathmandu Post. The 31-year-old Nepali national had flown in from Wuhan and was hospitalized for respiratory problems on Jan. 13.

Doctors in Kathmandu told the Post that the man’s lab results were pending due to a lack of testing kits, and that the hospital is sending the samples abroad for confirmation.

In Thailand, a 74-year-old woman who traveled from Wuhan on Monday became the second person in the country to test positive for the coronavirus, Thai health authorities said Friday. A 61-year-old Chinese woman had become the first imported case of a novel coronavirus infection earlier this week.

Both women are in stable condition, according to Thai health officials.

Japan also confirmed its first case involving the new coronavirus Thursday, the World Health Organization said, citing Japan’s health ministry. The patient, a Chinese national in his 30s who had traveled to Wuhan, was hospitalized Jan. 10 before being discharged Wednesday after making a full recovery, according to local media reports.

The WHO and Wuhan health authorities said this week that the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission “cannot be ruled out.” The infected patients in Japan and Thailand have said that they had no history of visiting the South China Seafood Market.

“Considering global travel patterns, additional cases in other countries are likely,” the WHO said.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Tuchong)