Chinese authority says pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan may be new coronavirus

Henrietta Brewer
January 9, 2020

Scientist have speculated for days that a novel coronavirus might have caused the Wuhan outbreak as officials there ruled out other coronaviruses - including Sars and Mers-CoV - as well as influenza, avian influenza and adenovirus. As the present illness does not not transmit readily between people, it's possible they were infected by animals at the market.

The team says it needs to conduct more research to identify that it is a new type.

But the Chinese authorities said yesterday that, although the virus was new, it did not appear to be spreading from human to human as SARS did. Chinese authorities have said no one has died from this infection; seven, however, were in critical condition as of Sunday.

Eight patients have recovered and were discharged from hospital on Wednesday, according to Xinhua.

However, Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization representative to China, said "further investigations" were required to "determine the source, modes of transmission, extent of infection and countermeasures implemented".

"Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement", Galea said in a statement, adding that it "demonstrates China's increased capacity to manage new outbreaks".

While regions including Hong Kong and Singapore have reported illnesses from travellers who had been to Wuhan, none so far has shown a link to the pneumonia cluster.

The country's civil aviation authority and national railway said at the briefing they had not received any reports of affected patients taking flights or trains, and that they were closely watching the situation.

None of the Hong Kong patients had visited the seafood market in Wuhan where some of the mainland Chinese patients worked.

Roughly 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, Taiwan authorities said Wednesday that they were quarantining a patient who fell ill with flu symptoms on January 6, more than two weeks after the individual returned from a trip to Wuhan.

Preliminary tests indicated the illness may be caused by a new coronavirus, lead scientist Xu Jianguo told the official Xinhua news agency.

Sars emerged in southern China late in 2002 and spread rapidly to other cities and countries in 2003.

Coronaviruses are common and spread through coughing or sneezing or by touching an infected person. It has resulted in more than 800 deaths, with the majority reported from Saudi Arabia.

While the United Nations health agency said it needed more comprehensive information to confirm precisely the type of pathogen causing the infections, it said a new coronavirus was a possibility. The CDC also issued a low-level travel alert advising travelers to China's Wuhan area to "avoid living or dead animals, animal markets, and contact with sick people".

Other reports by iNewsToday