Published: Fri, January 24, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Virus in Chinese outbreak is closest to one from bats, not snakes

Virus in Chinese outbreak is closest to one from bats, not snakes

More than 570 people have been infected with the virus across China - with most cases found in Wuhan, where a seafood market that illegally sold wild animals has been identified as the epicentre of the outbreak. He warned that the restrictions could hamper efforts to move medical supplies and personnel-and also scare infected people away from seeking care.

"But it has not yet become a global health emergency".

As experts raced to crack the virus code, the city and provincial authorities battled day and night to deal with the fallout as the number of sick people overwhelmed hospitals and clinics at the epicentre.

A mysterious new pneumonia-causing virus that has killed over a dozen people in China is thought to have originated in snakes, according to experts.

It comes on the heels of the Chinese government announcing that it was locking down Wuhan, the city of 11 million people and the epicenter of the outbreak.

The news comes as the World Health Organization was meeting in Geneva Wednesday to determine whether the virus, which causes respiratory illness like pneumonia, is an worldwide health emergency.

The emergency committee will meet again on Thursday, after its chair, Didier Houssin, said the experts were split over declaring a public health emergency.

But near-empty trains and planes were still heading into the city of 11 million on Thursday, with hardy passengers donning surgical masks and gloves to courageous the journey.

Public transit has been suspended and public venues have been closed in three cities in China; Jonathan Serrie reports.

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Few people were seen wandering in the streets, the road were empty, official events had been cancelled and state media said authorities ordered everyone to wear masks in public.

Dr. Andrew Freedman, reader in infectious diseases and honorary consultant physician at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, told Newsweek animal sources are typical of this group of bugs as the viruses have a high propensity to mutate.

He reportedly had no symptoms of the virus upon arrival but, after reading about the outbreak online and developing symptoms, he contacted his doctor.

According to the World Health Organization, signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

According to an update that Chinese health officials gave to the emergency committee, 25% of the cases to date have had life-threatening disease and 17 people have died.

Most were elderly and suffering other health issues, like Parkinson's or diabetes, it added.

World Health Organization officials were quick to note that this demographic information doesn't mean younger people aren't affected by the new coronavirus.

None of the airlines fly directly to Wuhan, but their Chinese partner airlines do, and some passengers transfer from a Chinese carrier to a Canadian one, offering the potential for the virus to spread here. Hyatt Hotels also said that cancellation fees will be waived for stays in areas most likely affected by the virus outbreak.

The outbreak began in Wuhan, a major transportation hub as well as central China's main industrial and commercial center, and has now spread to other major population centers including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Neither theory has been confirmed.

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