A quarantine station measures passenger body temperatures at Narita Airport on January 16, 2020. - Japan has confirmed a case of a mystery virus that first emerged in China and is from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen, authorities said on January 16. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT

BEIJING: A second person has died in China from a mysterious SARS-linked virus that has stricken dozens and appeared in two other Asian countries, with a new case reported in Thailand yesterday.

Local authorities said a 69year-old man died on Wednesday in Wuhan, the central Chinese city believed to be the epicentre of an outbreak of a coronavirus from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen.

The outbreak has caused alarm because of the link with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

At least 41 people have been hit with pneumonia linked to the new virus in China, prompting authorities in Hong Kong to step up detection measures, including temperature checkpoints for inbound travelers.

The Wuhan health commission said 12 people have recovered and been discharged from hospital, while five others were in serious condition.

The man who died had become sick on December 31 and his condition worsened on January 4, with pulmonary tuberculosis and multiple organ functions damaged, the commission said.

A quarantine station measures passenger body temperatures at Narita Airport on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Three other cases have been detected — two in Thailand and one in Japan — with health managers in both countries saying the patients had visited Wuhan prior to their hospitalisation.

Thailand reported its second case of the coronavirus yesterday: a 74-year-old Chinese woman who had arrived from Wuhan earlier this week.

Her condition is improving, said Thai health officials, who urged people not to panic as there was “no spread of the virus” in the Southeast Asian country.

No human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed so far, but the health commission has said the possibility “cannot be excluded”.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) doctor has said that it would not be surprising if there was “some limited human-tohuman transmission, especially among families who have close contact with one another”.

The WHO said Thursday that “much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus”.

Not enough was known about it to “draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted,” a statement added.

The Wuhan health commission said one man who had been diagnosed worked at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, but his wife, who also had the virus, reported “no history of exposure” at the facility.

The woman diagnosed in Thailand had not reported visiting the seafood market, the WHO said on Tuesday. She was reported to be in stable condition earlier this week.

The patient in Japan, who was released from hospital, had also not visited the market. Japanese officials said it was possible that the man had been in contact with a person infected with the virus while in Wuhan. – AFP