China reports first death from new virus

Public Health Officials hand out disease monitoring information after performing thermal scans on passengers arriving from Wuhan China at Suvarnabumi Airport in Bangkok Thailand

South Korea's public safety and health agency on Friday asked China to provide information on the new type of coronavirus that is suspected of having caused pneumonia-like illness in recent weeks. The mysterious illness has led to panic in parts of China, which was hit by a deadly epidemic of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, 17 years ago.

In their statements released Saturday, Wuhan authorities said they have not seen any new infections since January 3. Although there are still many questions to be answered, the announcement indicates that researchers are making some progress. Preliminary mapping indicated the coronavirus bears an 87.6 percent likeness to a virus carried by bats, while it is 79 percent similar to SARS and 52 percent similar to MERS. There have been no deaths reported and there is no evidence of transmission from person to person or any signs of illness among medical and nursing staff.

Treatment failed to improve his symptoms and he died on January 9 due to heart failure. The commission said he also suffered from abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease and had been a frequent customer at a food market on Wuhan's outskirts that has been linked to the majority of the cases.

The unexplained pneumonia cases started popping up in Wuhan - a city 700 miles south of Beijing - on December 12.

More than 8,000 people were sickened between 2002 and 2003 during an outbreak of sudden acute respiratory syndrome in China and Hong Kong, killing almost 800 people and sparking a global health panic.

The patient with viral pneumonia has been confirmed dead in Wuhan, and seven others are in critical condition, the health authorities said.

A total of 41 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. "Some transmit easily from person to person, while others don't", the World Health Organization said.

Coronaviruses are a specific family of viruses, with some of them causing less-severe damage, such as the common cold, and others causing respiratory and intestinal diseases. Authorities have closed the seafood market.

Human cases of avian influenza have recently been reported in China, and historically there have been more cases at this time of year.