Published: Mon, January 13, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

U.S. warns citizens in China over mystery pneumonia outbreak

U.S. warns citizens in China over mystery pneumonia outbreak

When viewed under an electron microscope, it exhibits the crown-like halo that gives coronaviruses their name, said Xu Jianguo, identified by CCTV as the leader of the preliminary assessment of the test results and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Coronaviruses can spread by coughing, sneezing, or touching an infected person.

A mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has hit dozens of individuals and put China on edge is from the identical household of viruses because of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), based on Chinese scientists. While some are less severe, other types of the coronavirus such as the MERS may be more deadly.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed in a statement the preliminary discovery of a new coronavirus.

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The man, who had travelled to Wuhan, has been isolated as a precautionary measure and remains in stable condition, it added. They had no pneumonia symptoms for several days. There is no proof of human-to-human transmission as yet. Twenty-one of those patients have since been discharged, the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong said Wednesday.

The patient has been isolated and is now undergoing treatment.

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Many cases have been traced to South China Seafood City food market, which has since been suspended and is under investigation, according to The Associated Press. 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.

In 2002, SARS emerged as the new coronavirus, which first infected people in southern China and then spread to more than two dozen countries.

"The initial information about the cases of pneumonia in Wuhan ... pointed to a coronavirus as a possible pathogen causing this cluster", the World Health Organization said in a statement. At least 770 died after it spread to other cities and countries.

Since the end of 2019, public hospitals in Hong Kong have reported 38 patients who, following recent visits to Wuhan, had fever, respiratory infections, or pneumonia.

The microbiologist stressed that tests conducted in Hong Kong are reliable and that healthcare staff and citizens should cooperate to identify potential victims of Wuhan-linked pneumonia as soon as possible and make them undergo a test.

The report on CCTV appears to be the first official confirmation from Chinese authorities that they believe a new virus is responsible for this outbreak - specifically a coronavirus, a type of virus in the family that includes SARS and MERS.

China's Ministry of Transport has "made arrangements for disinfection, monitoring and prevention" focusing on areas with large numbers of passengers, including stations and cargo hubs, the ministry's chief engineer, Wang Yang, said at an annual media briefing Thursday.

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