Doctors confirm human-to-human transmission of new coronavirus

Chinese officials said Monday that they had confirmed the first case of human-to-human transmission of a new deadly form of coronavirus thought to have originated in China's Wuhan province.

Two new cases, reported in China's coastal Guangdong province, are though to have been contracted by victims from a family member, bringing the total number sickened by the virus up past 200 according to The Associated Press.

Three people have died so far from the virus, which causes pneumonia in victims and is still not thought to be easily transmittable between humans.


“The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and other places must be taken seriously,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday, according to the AP.  “Party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.”

The country's National Health Commission said in a separate statement that the source of the virus has yet to be identified, though authorities have reportedly closed a seafood market in the Wuhan province where many original cases were reported.

“However, the source of the new type of coronavirus has not been found, we do not fully understand how the virus is transmitted, and changes in the virus still need to be closely monitored," the commission said.

News of the outbreak comes as many Chinese citizens are celebrating the Lunar New Year, a national holiday that often involves travel. Reports of Chinese travelers carrying symptoms of the disease have been reported in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, as authorities have scrambled to respond to the outbreak and contain suspected carriers.