Travelers wear face masks as they sit in a waiting room at the Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. A fourth person has died in an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, authorities said Tuesday, as more places stepped up medical screening of travelers from the country as it enters its busiest travel period. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The number of people infected with a new virus in China has tripled. Authorities reported 139 new cases of the coronavirus strain, more than doubling the total number of patients infected. The virus was first detected last month in the central Chinese town of Wuhan.


Video by: Vuyolwethu Fundam, Belt and Road Initiative, BRI+

Three people were killed and at least three cases were reported overseas-after two in Thailand and one in Japan.

Cases have been identified in the provinces of Beijing, Guangdong and Zhejiang, raising fears ahead of the New Year lunar holiday, when more than 400 million Chinese people are expected to travel domestically and internationally.

The outbreak has also revived memories of the Sars virus, a coronavirus that killed 774 people in dozens of countries, mostly in Asia, in the early 2000s.

Analysis of the new virus genetic code shows it's closer to Sars than any other human coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation said it currently does not advocate international travel or trade restrictions but provides guidance to countries that are planning for any outbreak.

Hospitals in Shanghai and Beijing and in the province of Zhejiang have enhanced examination procedures in hospitals in a "comprehensive" way. Temperature controls at airports, ports, and railway stations have been put in place in Shenzhen.

Coronavirus is transmitted between animals and humans. Wuhan's outbreak has been linked to a now-closed seafood market where live animals have reportedly been sold.

Xi Chen, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health, said that the likelihood of human to human transmission was great.

China's National Health Commission stated that it had sent working groups to all provinces to monitor outbreak prevention, describing the situation as "controllable," stating that there are no cases of the virus spreading from one person to another but that it had instead crossed the species barrier and originated from infected animals on the Wuhan seafood and wildlife market.