People wearing masks are pictured on the subway in Beijing
People wearing masks are pictured on the subway in Beijing Reuters

China has confirmed human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus, NBC News reported.

State media quoted Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert leading a Chinese government team, who said two people in the Guangdong province of southern China contracted the disease from family members who had visited Wuhan.

The National Health Commission task force also found that some medical workers have tested positive for the virus, the English-language China Daily newspaper said.

Until now, it was believed that the virus was transmitted animal-to-person, since it began with and was limited to people who contracted it at the Wuhan fresh food market.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday told CCTV: "The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and other places must be taken seriously. Party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people's lives and health first."

Wuhan health officials have confirmed an additional 136 cases, bringing the number of patients in the city to 198. Another five people have been diagnosed in Beijing, and 14 in Guangdong, CCTV noted. Seven other patients have been diagnosed in other areas of the country, including Shanghai and the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Three of those infected have died.

Authorities in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea have also reported cases, all of which involve a person who recently arrived from China.