A second person has died from pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan following an outbreak of a previously unknown virus, local health authorities said late on Thursday.
The 69-year-old man had been admitted to hospital with abnormal renal function and severe damage to multiple organs, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement on its website. He died on 15 January.
In all, 41 cases of pneumonia have been reported in Wuhan, which preliminary lab tests cited by state media showed could be from a new type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Japan on Thursday confirmed a man in his 30s had been infected with the virus and a Chinese woman has also been quarantined in Thailand with a mystery strain of coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned a wider outbreak is possible.
Some 763 people have been put under observation in Wuhan after coming in to close contact with known patients, health authorities said on Thursday. Of these, 644 have been released and 119 are still being monitored.
A 61-year-old man died earlier in the city from pneumonia, after testing positive for the virus.
The outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, when many of China's 1.4 billion people will be travelling to their home towns or abroad.
Memories remain fresh in Asia of a 2002/03 outbreak of SARS which emerged in China and killed nearly 800 people worldwide.