China confirms 139 new cases of pneumonia over weekend, virus spreads to new cities

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SHANGHAI (Jan 20): An outbreak of coronavirus in China is spreading to more cities, Chinese authorities reported on Monday, with 139 new cases found over the weekend, including a third death.

The Daxing health commission in the capital Beijing said it had confirmed two cases of coronavirus, while the southern Guangdong province's health commission confirmed one case in Shenzhen.

The new cases, the first inside China outside the central city of Wuhan where the virus was first reported, come as the country gears up for the Lunar New Year holidays later this week, when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel domestically and abroad.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement that 136 new cases of coronavirus had been discovered in the city on Saturday and Sunday.

As of late Sunday, 198 cases in total had been reported in Wuhan, including three deaths. Some 170 people were still being treated in the hospital, while 25 had been cured, it said. The statement gave no further details of the latest death toll.

Outside China, two cases have been reported in Thailand and one in Japan, all involving people from Wuhan or who recently visited the city.

Beijing said on Sunday it will increase efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, while health authorities around the world are working to prevent its spread.

The new virus belongs to the same family of coronaviruses that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China.

Some experts say the new virus may not be as deadly as SARS, but there is still little known about it including its origin and how easily it can be transmitted between humans.