Beijing, Jan 19 : China's health authorities said on Sunday 17 new cases of pneumonia caused by a novel strain of coronavirus that had been detected in the central city of Wuhan.
This takes the total number of people infected by the coronavirus, which has caused two deaths, to 62, reports Efe news.
Among the 17 new cases, 12 are men and five women - aged between 30 and 79 years - and three of them are in critical condition, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said.
Patients showed symptoms such as fever and cough before January 13 and have been moved to Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, except for the ones whose conditions are serious.
The Commission also reported that four patients had been cured and were discharged on Friday.
Preliminary epidemiological investigations revealed some of the infected people had no direct contact with the seafood market in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, to which most cases are being attributed.
The market has been temporarily closed and is being disinfected.
A total of 62 cases had been detected until Friday in Wuhan, a city of 11 million inhabitants, including the two who died of the illness and eight, who are in critical condition, while 19 have been discharged from the hospital, the commission said on Sunday.
Among the 763 people who have had close contact with the infected and were placed under observation, 681 have been discharged, according to the commission, which added that no cases have been detected among them so far.
Thailand reported two cases of the same coronavirus this week in Chinese travellers from Wuhan, while Japan confirmed another case in one of its nationals who had visited the city.
The new strain discovered in Wuhan belongs to the same family of coronavirus responsible for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002 that caused 646 deaths (813 worldwide) in China, according to the World Health Organization.
Preliminary investigations have not yet determined whether the new virus can be transmitted between people, although they estimate it may be less contagious than SARS.
The symptoms of the Wuhan pneumonia so far are fever and fatigue, a dry cough and, in many cases, dyspnea (shortness of breath).