Doctor treating coronavirus patients succumbs to virus

The virus has killed 42 people in China and infected over a thousand.

FILE PHOTO - Medical staff carry a box as they walk at the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 10, 2020. Picture taken January 10, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER/FILES)
FILE PHOTO - Medical staff carry a box as they walk at the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 10, 2020. Picture taken January 10, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER/FILES)
BEIJING - A new coronavirus has killed 42 people in China and infected more than a thousand, the government said on Saturday, as the World Health Organisation declared it an emergency but stopped short of declaring the epidemic of international concern.
A doctor in China's Hubei Province succumbed to the virus after being infected while caring for the patients, Reuters reported early onSaturday. This is likely to be the first case of a medical professional succumbing to the virus.
Liang Wudong, aged 62, a doctor at Hubei Xinhua Hospital who had been at the front line of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan city, died from the virus, the news agency said.
China's National Health Commission said that 830 cases had been confirmed so far and 25 people had died as of Thursday. Early Saturday, at least 42 deaths and more than a thousand cases were confirmed. Most of the cases are in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year.
Non-fatal cases have been found in at least seven other countries.
Health officials fear the transmission rate could accelerate as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year, which begins on Saturday.
Nonetheless, it was a "bit too early" to consider the outbreak a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern," World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee panel chairman Didier Houssin said after the body met in Geneva. Such a designation would have required countries to step up their international response.
"Make no mistake, though: This is an emergency in China," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"It has not yet become a global health emergency," he said, but "it may yet become one."
Scrambling to contain the outbreak, the local government in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in Hubei province, suspended most transportation services on Thursday, including outgoing flights, and people were told not to leave. Hours later, neighboring Huanggang, a city of about 7 million people, announced similar measures.
"The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history," said Gauden Galea, the WHO's representative in Beijing.
The organization said, however, that it was not yet recommending any broader restrictions on travel or trade.
The previously unknown virus strain is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan.
It has created alarm because there are a number of unknowns surrounding it. It is still too early to know just how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.
There is no vaccine for the virus, which can spread through respiratory transmission. Symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and coughing.


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