China coronavirus: Number of cases jumps as virus spreads to new cities

China has reported 139 new cases of a mysterious virus in two days, with the outbreak spreading from Wuhan to other major Chinese cities.
Beijing, the capital, reported two cases, while the southern tech hub of Shenzhen reported one suspected case.
The total number of confirmed cases now exceeds 200, and three have died from the respiratory illness.
The sharp uptick in those infected comes as millions of Chinese prepare to travel for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Health officials have identified the infection, which first appeared in Wuhan in December, as being a strain of coronavirus. They say it has led to an outbreak of viral pneumonia, but much about it remains unknown, including exactly how it has been spreading.
South Korea reported its first confirmed case of the virus on Monday, following Thailand and Japan.
The outbreak has revived memories of the Sars virus – also a coronavirus – that killed 774 people in the early 2000s across dozens of countries, mostly in Asia.
Analysis of the genetic code of the new virus shows it is more closely related to Sars than any other human coronavirus.
Experts in the UK told the BBC the number of people infected could still be far greater than official figures suggest, with estimates closer to 1,700.
China has promised to step up monitoring efforts during this week’s Lunar New Year celebrations, which will see hundreds of millions on the move.
What we know about the virus
• It is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans
• Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people
• Scientists believe an animal source is “the most likely primary source” but that some human-to-human transmission has occurred
• Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
• People are being advised to avoid “unprotected” contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
Source: World Health Organization
Who has been infected?
Authorities in Wuhan, a central Chinese city of 11 million that has been at the heart of the outbreak, said 136 new cases had been confirmed over the weekend, with a third person dying of the virus.
In total, the city alone has confirmed almost 200 cases of the coronavirus. As of late Sunday, officials said 170 people in Wuhan were still being treated in hospital, including nine in critical condition.
Health officials in Beijing’s Daxing district said two people who had travelled to Wuhan were treated for pneumonia linked to the virus.
In Shenzhen, officials said a 66-year-old man showed symptoms of the virus following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan.
The virus has also spread abroad. Two cases have been confirmed in Thailand and one in Japan – all of them involving people from Wuhan or who had visited the city.
In South Korea, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a 35-year-old Chinese woman was suffering from a fever and respiratory problems after travelling there from Wuhan.
She was put into isolation and treated at a local hospital.
The World Health Organization said it was currently not recommending restrictions on travel or trade, but was providing guidance to countries preparing for any outbreak.
Singapore and Hong Kong have been screening air passengers from Wuhan, and US authorities announced similar measures starting on Friday at three major airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
What are the Chinese authorities saying?
China’s National Health Commission on Sunday said the virus was “still preventable and controllable”, while warning that close monitoring was needed given that the source, transmission and mutation methods were unknown.
It said there had been no cases of the virus spreading from one person to another, but that it had instead crossed the species barrier and come from infected animals at a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan.
However the WHO said it believed there had been “some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts”.
“As more… cases are identified and more analysis undertaken, we will get a clearer picture of disease severity and transmission patterns,” it wrote on Twitter.
It noted that the rise in cases in China was a result of “increased searching and testing for [the virus] among people sick with respiratory illness”.