Wuhan novel coronavirus and avian flu: advice for travel to China

Henrietta Brewer
January 11, 2020

One person has died from a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, health authorities said on Saturday.

Unknown to science when it first emerged on the scene, the coronavirus has hit Wuhan hardest, where it rapidly spread to at least confirmed 59 patients, seven of whom are now in critical condition.

Another 739 people who were in close contact with the patients, including 419 medical workers, have been placed under medical observation but no related cases have been found. The South China Seafood City food market will be suspended and investigated, Wuhan's health commission said.

Treatment failed to improve his symptoms and he died on January 9 due to heart failure.

The outbreak has caused alarm due to the link to SARS, or Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed 349 people in mainland China and another 299 in Hong Kong more than a decade ago.

"No new cases have been detected since January 3, 2020", the health commission said.

Coronaviruses are a specific family of viruses, with some of them causing less-severe damage, such as the common cold, and others causing respiratory and intestinal diseases. World Health Organization said in a statement that further investigations are required to determine the source, modes of transmission and extent of infection caused by the new virus.

The Wuhan health authority in its statement also urged the public to take more precautions against infectious diseases, and said it was pushing ahead with tests to diagnose the pathogen and as of Friday had completed nucleic acid tests.

In 2003, Chinese officials covered up a SARS outbreak for weeks before a growing death toll and rumours forced the government to reveal the epidemic. More than 8,000 people were sickened and almost 800 died, but no cases have been reported since 2004.

Another form of coronavirus causes MERS, an illness that began in Jordan and Saudi Arabia in 2012 before spreading to about two dozen other countries.

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