The outbreak of pneumonic plague in the northwestern province of Qinghai has claimed a third victim, and another patient is near death, state media reported. The outbreak of the disease – a highly contagious lung infection that can kill a person in 24 hours if left untreated – was detected on July 30 in the town of Ziketan and 12 people have fallen ill. Of the nine patients still alive, seven are stable, one is in a serious condition and another is near death. Most of them are said to be relatives of the first casualty, a 37-year-old herdsman. Ziketan, which has 10,000 inhabitants, has been quarantined and medical staff are disinfecting the area. Despite the presence of police checkpoints, some people have tried to flee the town.