A town of 10,000 people in the northwestern province of Qinghai has been sealed off after three men died of pneumonic plague and nine others were affected, health authorities said.

The latest victim was a man named Danzhi, 64, from the town of Ziketan, in Xinghai county in the Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, who died yesterday.

A 37-year-old man named Danzin, reportedly died Sunday morning in Ziketan.

‘People are so scared,’ said a food seller surnamed Han at the Crystal Alley Market.

‘There are few people on the streets,’ Han said by telephone.

Meanwhile, a government official said the situation was ‘stable’. Danzin was admitted to hospital at 11 pm on Friday after developing a fever and cough.

He was a neighbor of the disease’s first fatality, identified by official sources only as a 32-year-old herdsman.

Of the nine patients in quarantined, one is in a serious condition and another has developed symptoms of coughing and chest pain.

They are mainly relatives of the deceased and have been isolated in hospital, where they are receiving treatment.

There has been no report of new infections.

The 3,000-sq-km town is in lockdown, with local people unable to travel outside its boundaries. The residents are being monitored by disease control experts.

The WHO’s spokeswoman in China, Vivian Tan, said yesterday that the government reported the first death and 11 other cases to the organization on Saturday.