Mystery pneumonia in China may be caused by new type of coronavirus

A health surveillance officer monitors passengers arriving at the Hong Kong International airport in Hong Kong. A preliminary investigation into viral pneumonia illnesses sickening dozens of people in and around China has identified the possible cause as a new type of coronavirus, state media said. - AP

BEIJING: A mysterious form of pneumonia that has spread in China's central metropolis of Wuhan may be caused by a new type of coronavirus, state media has reported.

The emergence of the virus is raising concerns as hundreds of millions of people are getting ready to travel during the Chinese New Year holiday, later this month.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday (Jan 10) advised against a travel ban in China.

"Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement and demonstrates China’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks," the WHO said.

A group of experts analysed the gene sequencing of the virus, reaching the preliminary conclusion that it is a new type of coronavirus, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The same coronavirus has been identified in 15 patients.

Coronaviruses can infect animals and people, causing diseases ranging from the common cold to severe illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Medical authorities in Wuhan reported Sunday that 59 patients had been diagnosed with the mysterious form of pneumonia, of whom seven were in a critical condition. By late Wednesday, eight patients were reported cured and discharged, according to CCTV.

The WHO said several patients had worked at or visited the same seafood market in Wuhan when they fell ill in December.

Symptoms included fever, difficulty breathing and lung lesions.

The disease raised alarm in places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, where officials said they would set up quarantine zones or scan passengers from China for signs of the disease.

The US embassy in China issued a health alert instructing travellers to Wuhan to avoid animals, animal markets, uncooked meat and contact with sick people. - dpa/Asian News Network
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China , Pnemonia , New Type of Coronavirus


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