The Chinese Health Commission on Thursday released information on the 17 people who died following the outbreak of novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The first victim, as Fox News previously reported, was a 61-year-old man who was diagnosed with abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease prior to falling ill. Officials in the report said the man was hospitalized on Dec. 27 and died on Jan. 9. His death was followed by a 69-year-old man who passed away on Jan 15.
Of the fatalities, 13 were men and four were women. Most of the deaths occurred in older people who had underlying health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among other health ailments.
The youngest fatality involved a 48-year-old woman who passed away on Jan. 20. She also suffered from pre-existing conditions. Two 89-year-old men were the oldest of the 17 victims, according to the report.
One epidemiologist told The New York Times that the information released could be seen as reassuring because “the majority of fatal cases are elderly and/or have a chronic disease that would increase their susceptibility to infectious diseases.” However, several of the people who died did not have symptoms of fever when they first sought treatment. As Bloomberg noted, this could potentially complicate global health screening initiatives for travelers.
“If this virus can be transmitted without causing fever, then it’s easier for the infection to travel globally because it can simply stay under the radar for a while,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington, D.C., told the outlet.
However, China this week halted all travel from Wuhan and at least two other nearby cities in an effort to contain the disease. The restrictions come just before the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel through China for the celebrations.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was "too early" to consider the virus a global health emergency. The health agency had spent two days assessing information about the virus, which has sickened over 500 people.
Officials in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong have all confirmed cases of the virus.