Chinese authorities on Jan. 19 reported a third death due to a viral pneumonia that first broke out in the central city of Wuhan.
And for the first time, China confirmed cases of infection outside of Wuhan, suggesting that the disease has spread more widely than authorities previously let on.
A London research institute estimated that the number of potential infections in Wuhan could be over 1,000.
Over the weekend, the U.S. and Canadian governments joined a growing list of countries that are stepping up monitoring of the disease to prevent its spread: three U.S. airports began screening passengers for possible infection, while three Canadian ones added alert messages for travelers from Wuhan.
The disease is caused by a new type of coronavirus, according to Chinese authorities. The latter is a family of viruses that includes the common cold, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
Early on Jan. 20, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announced that an additional 136 people were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus—bringing the city total to 198.
This was the largest increase since the outbreak was first confirmed by health officials in late December.
Authorities initially reported that 59 were infected. Last week, they lowered the number to 41, without explanation. For several days, authorities did not update the number, while the Japan and Thailand governments confirmed one and two cases of infection respectively—all from patients who had recently traveled to Wuhan—leading some experts to raise concerns about the veracity of Chinese figures.
Currently, nine are in critical condition, 35 in severe condition, and three have died, according to the Wuhan health commission. 25 were released from the hospital after recovering.
Other Chinese Cities
In the country’s capital Beijing, two people were diagnosed with the Wuhan pneumonia on Jan. 20.
According to state-run newspaper Beijing News, two locals caught a fever after they travelled to Wuhan, and were then hospitalized.
Both live in the Daxing district of Beijing, and are in stable condition.
And on Jan. 19, China’s National Health Commission confirmed one case of infection in Shenzhen city of southern China’s Guangdong Province.
The patient is a 66-year-old man who is from Wuhan and lives in Shenzhen.
The patient visited his family in Wuhan from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, and began to exhibit symptoms on Jan. 3. He visited the doctor after he returned to Shenzhen, and was quarantined since Jan. 11.
Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post cited three anonymous sources in a Jan. 19 report that said one suspected patient is being hospitalized in Shanghai.
Chinese netizens began spreading information about suspected patients in Guangzhou city, the capital of Guangdong. They said there were doctors and nurses from the Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University and the Army General Hospital in Guangzhou who were exhibiting symptoms.
The Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University soon took to its official Weibo account—a Twitter-like social media platform—on Jan. 18 to dispel the rumors. But the hospital quickly deleted the post and refused to give any explanation when contacted by media.