JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -A second person has died in South Africa this week from the viral infection mpox, the health ministry said on Thursday, less than 24 hours after it announced the first death.

The second person who died was a 38-year-old man. He was admitted to a hospital in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province with extensive lesions, headache, fatigue, oral ulcers, muscle pain and a sore throat. He tested positive for mpox on Wednesday.

"The patient has unfortunately demised in KZN the same day his test results came back positive," spokesperson for the national health department Foster Mohale said.

The total number of laboratory-confirmed mpox cases stands at six, with two deaths since the first case was recorded five weeks ago.

Mpox spreads through close physical contact. Most cases are mild but it can kill.

(Reporting by Tannur AndersEditing by Alexander Winning)