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China’s Mysterious and Deadly Coronavirus Is Spreading Faster Than Previously Thought

The number of people infected by a pneumonia-like virus in China tripled over the weekend as authorities confirmed on Monday that the coronavirus had spread to many more regions and cities, including the capital Beijing. With just days to go before hundreds of millions of people travel to celebrate Chinese New Year, the tripling of…

China’s Mysterious and Deadly Coronavirus Is Spreading Faster Than Previously Thought

The number of people infected by a pneumonia-like virus in China tripled over the weekend as authorities confirmed on Monday that the coronavirus had spread to many more regions and cities, including the capital Beijing.

With just days to go before hundreds of millions of people travel to celebrate Chinese New Year, the tripling of cases of the infectious disease has raised fears of a much wider outbreak, after the World Health Organization confirmed that the virus was being spread through human-to-human transmission.

Officials in Wuhan, where the outbreak of the coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, was first detected on December 30, reported 136 new infections on Saturday and Sunday, while authorities in Beijing and Shenzen confirmed a total of three cases on Monday, the first time infections have been reported outside of Wuhan in China.

Officials in Wuhan said 170 people remained in hospital, nine of them in critical condition.

Additionally, the coastal province of Zhejiang, which borders Shanghai, reported five suspected cases.

The Chinese government publicly acknowledged the crisis for the first time on Monday, with President Xi Jinping saying the outbreak needs to be “taken seriously,” adding that “party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.”

The World Health Organization said the spike in reported cases was “the result of increased searching and testing” for the coronavirus. In Wuhan, a third death linked to the virus was also confirmed over the weekend, with confirmed infections now totaling more than 200.

The Lunar New Year festivities take place next weekend and from Friday one of the largest mass migrations of humans on earth will begin. Wuhan is a critical rail hub for millions of passengers.

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READ: China’s mysterious pneumonia-like virus is now spreading to other countries

Authorities there have been screening people at airports and train stations for nearly a week and using temperature scanners in a bid to limit the spread of the disease.

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