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Second person dies from mystery virus in China: official

A second person has died in China from a mystery virus that has stricken dozens and appeared in two other Asian countries, officials said.

Local authorities said a 69-year-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.

The Wuhan health commission said in a statement late Thursday that 12 people have recovered and were discharged from hospital while five people were in serious condition.

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

Two other cases were detected in Thailand and Japan, with authorities in both countries saying the patients had visited Wuhan prior to their hospitalisations.

Authorities in Wuhan said a seafood market was the centre of the outbreak. It was closed on January 1.

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”.

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