WUHAN, CHINA — Cases of novel coronavirus infection in China have tripled over the weekend, sparking global concerns about an outbreak.

China’s state-run Xinhua News reports that there are 218 confirmed cases, mostly in the city of Wuhan. The BBC reports that three have died and nine are in critical condition.

China Daily yesterday reported that a fourth fatality occurred in Wuhan, where 15 medical workers have caught the disease as they try to help the patients.

Millions of Chinese are traveling in the country to celebrate the Lunar New Year vacation, which will begin on Friday.

The BBC reports that the virus has spread, with five cases in Beijing, one in Shanghai and one in Shenzhen.

Outside of China, four cases have been confirmed, two in Thailand, one in Japan and a new case in South Korea.

The BBC reports that in each case, the infected person had recently visited Wuhan before falling ill.

Scientists believe the infection’s main source is animal-based and have advised people not to handle live chickens without protection and to thoroughly cook meat and eggs.

However, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reports that health officials have confirmed that human to human transmission has occurred in two cases.

According to the BBC, genetic analysis has identified the pathogen as a SARS-like coronavirus strain and one of the seven coronaviruses capable of infecting humans.

According to the WHO, scientists are calling the pathogen 2019-nCoV.

The pneumonia-like infection causes coughing, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and fever.

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