China has confirmed nearly 300 patients infected with the new coronavirus as of Monday, state-run media reported Tuesday, with the mayor of the central China city of Wuhan confirming a sixth death due to the virus, Kyodo reports.
As of Monday night, the National Health Commission has received 291 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in cities and provinces in China, including Beijing and Shanghai, with Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang quoted as saying six patients have now been killed by the virus, CCTV reported.
Taiwan also confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus Tuesday evening in a 55-year-old Taiwanese woman who had returned from Wuhan the night before.
Late Monday night, an expert team from China's National Health Commission said the virus has been transmitted person to person, the country's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Zhong Nanshan, head of the team in the government-run organization, said in a TV interview that medical professionals have also been infected.
The Chinese pulmonologist contributed to discovering a virus causing severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, announced Monday that it will hold an emergency committee meeting later this week in Geneva to discuss how to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
As many Chinese citizens are expected to travel at home and abroad during the Lunar New Year holidays, which start later this week, it is feared the infection may spread.
Health authorities in Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated, have said the risk of continued human-to-human infection is relatively low and preventable, and can be contained.
The city's health authorities said Tuesday that it has strengthened security by screening people with infrared thermometers in airports, train stations and bus terminals while also conducting random inspections of vehicles to prevent livestock from coming in and out of Wuhan.
Coronaviruses usually cause common-cold symptoms affecting the nose, sinuses or upper throat, and are spread through sneezing, coughing or direct contact.
In 2003, SARS, possibly originating in bats, emerged and raged in China and then spread worldwide, killing 774 people.
Elsewhere in Asia, Thailand and South Korea have detected infections since earlier this year, while Japan last week reported its first case of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus.
Numerous airports around the world, especially in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States with frequent flights from China, have already implemented stricter screening measures.
Source: Kazinform News Agency
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