Experts say source of newly identified virus in China must be found

Experts say source of newly identified virus in China must be found

Yesterday, China's official Xinhua news agency said preliminary lab results conducted by a team of experts showed a new type of coronavirus caused the outbreak that began last month. Four of the six previously known human coronaviruses are common and only cause minor respiratory symptoms, but the other two (Sars and Mers) are more risky and have claimed hundreds of lives worldwide.

Medical authorities in Wuhan also ruled out Sars, Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), and avian influenza as possible causes of the outbreak and the Wuhan health bureau had said there was no evidence so far of human-to-human transmission.

The request comes two days after the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the country's first suspected case of the illness that has caused alarm in China for weeks.

At 8pm on Sunday, The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a statement saying, it had identified 59 people who were infected by an unknown pneumonia disease.

The WHO said Wednesday that Chinese authorities believe the virus "does not transmit readily between people".

Read the full report on Caixin Global later today.

Meanwhile, the top official of Wuhan City suddenly resigned from one of his appointments, while Hong Kong and Taiwan authorities are taking extra precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

A man wears a mask to protect himself in Bejing during the 2003 SARS epidemic
A man wears a mask to protect himself in Bejing during the 2003 SARS epidemic

Though coronaviruses typically infect mammals - including bats, livestock, and household pets - they can also infect humans, and may spread from sick to healthy people through the air (coughing and sneezing), close physical contact, or when fingers touch a contaminated surface and then the mouth, nose, or eyes, according to the U.S. CDC. The total suspected patients in Hong Kong reached 38.

Coronavirus is a pathogen that can cause illness in the respiratory or digestive tracks.

Like SARS and MERS-CoV, the newly detected coronavirus probably has a zoonotic source, he said, noting that intensive epidemiological investigations are likely under way in China to trace the virus reservoir.

While SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, also belongs to the coronavirus family, Chinese state media say the illness in Wuhan is different from coronaviruses that have been identified in the past.

"Sorry, I. I don't know about this", the employee said.

The outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays in late January, when many of China's 1.4 billion people will be traveling to their home towns or overseas. It may take years for researchers to develop medicines and vaccines. "And we don't know how many other cases are walking around right now", said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit organization that works in this sphere. In the case of SARS, no human cases have been reported anywhere in the world since 2004. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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