January 21, 2020: The leader of a team of Chinese government experts announced Monday that the transmission of a new coronavirus was confirmed from person to person, Associated Press reported. The finding could increase the fear that the infection does not require contact with infected animals, and could spread among people more quickly.
According to the AP, the leader of the research team Zhong Nashan, a breathing expert, said two people in Guangdong Province in southern China contracted the virus from family members. Some medical workers also appear to have contracted the virus from patients, the China Daily newspaper said.
Also on Monday, China reported an increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus, including the first cases that emerged in the capital, Beijing.
According to the Associated Press, authorities say the total number of cases has exceeded 200. A third person died from the disease in Wuhan, the central city of China where the outbreak began.
Chinese state media said two cases have been reported in Beijing and one in the southern city of Shenzen. In Wuhan, the cases now add up to 198, with 136 new cases reported.
The infection is believed to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed for investigation, the AP said.
The coronavirus is spreading to neighboring countries, with three cases arising in Japan and Thailand. The first case diagnosed in South Korea was also announced on Monday.
To help stop the spread of the virus, airports in at least six Asian countries have begun controlling passengers entering from central China, and on Friday the US authorities said similar measures are being taken at the airports they serve. to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
Speaking on the Chinese state television network CCTV, Li Gang, director and chief physician of the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said "the infectivity of the new coronavirus is not strong." Infectivity means the rapid spread of the virus among individuals.
This "does not rule out the possibility of limited transmission from person to person, but the risk of continuous transmission from person to person is low," Li said. "With the implementation of our various prevention and control measures, the epidemic can be prevented and controlled."