SHANGHAI/BANGKOK • A second person has died from pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan following an outbreak believed to be caused by a new coronavirus strain, local health authorities said.
Thailand, meanwhile, reported a second case of pneumonia on Thursday.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on its website late on Thursday that a 69-year-old man had been admitted to hospital with abnormal renal function and severe damage to multiple organs. He died on Wednesday.
In Thailand, the second patient with pneumonia is a 74-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan city, who has been quarantined since arriving on Monday.
"We're very confident that we can control the spread of this kind of diseases," said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, adding that the situation was under control and there was no outbreak in Thailand.
The two Chinese patients were now safe but needed to go through a few more procedures before the Thai authorities could let them return home, the minister added.
Japan reported its first case of the infection on Thursday, after a Japanese man returned from visiting Wuhan.
Though the known cases so far involve only individuals who have travelled to or live in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that a wider outbreak is possible. It has given guidance to hospitals worldwide on infection prevention and control.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission has also said that although no human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, the possibility "cannot be excluded".
The exact cause of the outbreak remains unclear, though a seafood market in Wuhan is suspected to be the epicentre.
At least 41 people have been hit with pneumonia linked to the virus in China. The Wuhan health commission said 12 people have been discharged from hospital, while five others remain in serious condition.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to the severe acute respiratory syndrome or Sars.
WHO has advised against any travel or trade restrictions based on current information as "much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus".
China and other countries seek to prevent further spreading of the virus ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays next week, when many of the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens will be travelling abroad.
Beijing has stepped up disinfection in major transportation hubs.
Thailand has increased monitoring at four airports receiving daily flights from Wuhan - Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang, Chiang Mai and Phuket - and others that receive charter flights from the city.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
2 more suspected cases detected in Singapore
In Singapore, two people who travelled to Wuhan have been diagnosed with pneumonia, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday evening.
They are a 64-year-old male Chinese national and a 61-year-old female Singapore resident.
"Both cases have been admitted for further assessment and treatment, and isolated as a precautionary measure," a ministry spokesman said. "They are in stable condition."
Both did not visit the seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, from where the new bug is thought to have emerged.
Investigations are ongoing to establish whether their illnesses are linked to the Wuhan disease cluster, MOH said.
These two cases bring the total number of people in Singapore who have been suspected of having the Wuhan virus to five.
The first two were a three-year-old girl and a 26-year-old man. Both of them were Chinese nationals.
They had visited Wuhan but subsequently tested negative for the virus.
The third case, reported on Thursday, was a 69-year-old Singaporean man who travelled to Wuhan but did not visit the seafood wholesale market. The man has tested negative for the virus.