(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Chinese authorities have reported 139 new cases of a mysterious virus in two days, marking the first time that the infection has been confirmed in the country outside of Wuhan city.
The new cases were identified in the cities of Wuhan, Beijing and Shenzhen.
The total number of confirmed cases now exceeds 200, and three have died from the respiratory illness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of cases rose because of “increased searching and testing”.
The new coronavirus strain first appeared in Wuhan in December and has already spread abroad, with two cases in Thailand and one in Japan.
Authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan said 136 new cases had been confirmed over the weekend, and a third person there died from the virus.
As of late Sunday, officials said 170 people in Wuhan were still being treated in hospital, including nine in critical condition.
Health officials in Beijing’s Daxing district said two people who had travelled to Wuhan were treated for pneumonia linked to the virus.
In Shenzhen, officials said a 66-year-old man showed symptoms of the virus following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan.
The WHO said “increased searching and testing for [the virus] among people sick with respiratory illness” had led to the jump in confirmed cases.