Pneumonic plague can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the most virulent form of the disease [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Two people in Beijing were diagnosed with the pneumonic plague – a rare instance of the highly contagious disease that is fatal if left untreated.

The two were being treated at a central hospital in China‘s capital – home to more than 21 million, local authorities said.

Pneumonic plague can prove fatal in 24 to 72 hours and is the “most virulent form of plague”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), while the bubonic form is less dangerous.

The patients are from the northwestern Inner Mongolia province, district officials said in an online statement, adding the “relevant prevention and control measures

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