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China reports third death from mystery virus

China on Monday reported a third death from a newly discovered virus while confirming 136 new cases, according to local media.

Health authorities in Wuhan province reported that a patient had died Saturday and said 59 new cases had been confirmed on Saturday and 77 on Sunday, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 198, local daily The South China Morning Post reported.

For the first time, health authorities reported three cases outside Wuhan.

According to China’s National Health Commission, two cases were reported in the capital Beijing and one in Shenzhen in southeastern China bordering Hong Kong.

The virus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, has spread fear among the public as the world’s most populated country prepares for the Lunar New Year holiday when hundreds of millions of people will be traveling across the country.

However, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the outbreak is “preventable and controllable.”

The new virus was not severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which killed more than 700 people around the world in a 2002-03 outbreak that originated in China, the center said in a statement.

China on Thursday confirmed a second death from the virus in Wuhan province.

Last Saturday, the country reported the first death.

Besides China, two cases of the virus have been reported in Thailand and one in Japan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Chinese authorities believe a new coronavirus — the family of the deadly SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) viruses — may be the cause of the mysterious pneumonia cases in the city, Scientific American magazine reported.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that range from the common cold to SARS. Some cause less-severe disease, some more severe. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others don’t,” according to the WHO.

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