Beijing, Chinese authorities on Tuesday confirmed the fourth death due to the new coronavirus that has also infected more than 195 people, adding that its transmission between humans was possible.
Zhong Nanshan, who leads the health commission’s team of experts, said at least two patients in the southern province of Canton had contracted the virus through human contact, reports Efe news.
“Patients became infected after their relatives travelled to Wuhan (thr source of the outbreak) and became infected,” Zhong said.
The latest death, confirmed on Tuesday, was that of an 89-year-old man who was hospitalized on January 17. The expert added that several health workers had also been infected.
However, Zhong said it only took two weeks to identify the new virus and that a situation such as the one that occurred during 2003’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic was unlikely.
SARS caused 813 deaths worldwide, 646 of which were in China.
The number of confirmed infections on Tuesday morning in China was down to 198, after 25 patients recovered. Thirty-five are in serious condition, while nine are critical.
Two other cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, one in South Korea and one in Japan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that he expected the virus to be contained “with determination”, while Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced the creation of a group dedicated to fighting the illness.
The World Health Organization will hold a meeting of experts on Wednesday to determine whether the current coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes an international emergency.