Health officials in Wuhan, China have revealed that 136 new cases of a mysterious new strain of the coronavirus have been diagnosed over just two days, bringing the total in the city to 198.
In a statement detailing the latest escalation in figures for the major viral outbreak, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said a third person has died from the illness, while two more are in critical condition. A further 33 cases among the newly diagnosed patients are classified as “severe.” All of the patients are being kept in isolation.
“The first symptoms were mostly fever, cough or chest tightness, and shortness of breath,” the agency said, advising anyone coughing or sneezing to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of germs.
“Pay close attention to symptoms such as fever and cough,” they added. “Seek immediate medical attention when such symptoms occur.”
Health officials said they’ve been carrying out medical observations on hundreds of people who came into close contact with those diagnosed to date, and no human-to-human transmission has been found. So far, the outbreak appears to be centered on Wuhan, but a small number of cases have been reported outside of China – two in Thailand and one in Japan.
Infectious disease experts at Imperial College London have calculated that the number of cases in Wuhan alone is approaching 1,700.
On Saturday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention denied claims that the new outbreak is actually Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), an outbreak of which killed more than 700 people around the world in 2002 and 2003, after cases were first reported in southern China.