China believes new virus behind mystery pneumonia outbreak
13 January, 2020, 02:36
The Hubei Provincial Health Commission appeared to endorse this finding by sharing CCTV's report on its official account on social app WeChat - though a staff member at the commission who answered Sixth Tone's phone call Thursday would not comment on the nature of the virus.
Coronaviruses are spread by coughing or sneezing or by touching an infected person. However, some coronavirus can cause life-threatening diseases such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe acute respiratory syndrome ( SARS ). Hong Kong and other countries in Southeast Asia are isolating any such cases until they can be tested for influenza, rhinoviruses, and other viruses that cause colds and flu.
Twenty-five patients have been discharged, while others still in the hospital are in stable condition, Hong Kong's Hospital Authority said Thursday.
According to the latest CCTV report, eight patients had recovered and left the hospital in Wuhan. They had no pneumonia symptoms for several days. The WHO added that all patients have been isolated and are receiving treatment, with the main clinical symptoms being fever and "chest radiographs showing invasive lesions of the lungs", though some patients have reported difficulty breathing.
Some of the patients were vendors at the Wuhan South China Seafood City (South China Seafood Wholesale Market) where, in addition to seafood, chickens, bats, marmots, and other wild animals are sold, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak.
No deaths due to the emerging form of pneumonia have so far been reported. Fifteen such patients are now being treated in Hong Kong, with only one known case in South Korea.
"The patients concerned had not visited [fresh food] markets in Wuhan before the onset of symptoms", the statement said. 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. More than 8,000 people were infected and 775 died. 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 unsafe and have claimed hundreds of lives worldwide.
Confirmation that scientists have the genetic sequence of the virus will increase pressure on China to release at least part of that sequence, so that health facilities around the world know what to look for as they try to detect possible cases from this outbreak.
The DDC has also advised Thai and global tourists, who are travelling from Wuhan, China within 14 days to seek immediate medical advice and treatment if they are experiencing these emergency warning signs: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and shortness of breath.