Coronavirus epidemic breaking out? Fourth death in China escalates fears

An 89-year old man lost his life on Tuesday after being infected by the coronavirus, making him fourth such fatality in China.

A fourth fatality due to the mysterious coronavirus has been confirmed in China. More than 200 people have been infected since the disease's outbreak in December last year. On Monday, the Chinese authorities confirmed the virus's human-to-human transmission. The virus has traveled beyond China and has infected four persons.

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Fourth fatality confirmed

An 89-year old man is the fourth person in China to lose his life due to the coronavirus infection. The octogenarian is said to have suffered from other health problems including coronary heart disease. He developed symptoms on January 13 and was admitted to hospital four days later on January 17. He succumbed to the infection on January 19. As of Monday night, the total number of confirmed infection cases in China stood at 218, with 198 people infected in Wuhan alone.

Human-to-Human transmission

On Monday, the Chinese authorities confirmed that the virus can be transmitted from one person to another. Zhong Nanshan, the head of the National Health Commission, said that at least two patients in the southern province of Canton had contracted the virus through human contact. "Patients became infected after their relatives traveled to Wuhan (the epicenter of the outbreak) and became infected," Zhong said. Also, infections among 14 health workers, confirmed the same, Al Jazeera reported.

Despite the large numbers of those infected, Zhong said that the situation isn't as dire as in 2003, when the viral outbreak led to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, which took 813 lives worldwide, 646 of which were in China.

Cases beyond Wuhan

The virus has spread beyond Wuhan, including in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Five cases have been reported in Beijing, 14 in Guangdong, and one in Shanghai. Four cases have been confirmed outside China: two in Thailand, one in Japan and another in South Korea. The recent disease outbreak comes ahead of China's Lunar New Year holiday, which will start this week, in which millions of Chinese are expected to travel domestically and abroad.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) will hold a meeting to determine whether the current coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes an international emergency. It had earlier said that an animal source is most likely the primary origin of the Wuhan outbreak.

Related topics : Coronavirus