An unidentified virus has caused the third death in China along with over 130 reported cases of the infection. The virus first took a toll in Beijing, leading to the second death in southern China and the third is an entirely different country – South Korea.
With the alarming growth rate of the affectees, Chinese authorities are highly concerned with identifying the virus and its mode of transmission, especially during this peak travel season.
The virus initially started spreading in Wuhan, a central city in China, and eventually spread to the surrounding areas. The number of reported cases in the city reached 136 over the weekend, with 9 being in critical condition and one passing away.
Next, Beijing and Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, hosted two more cases of a similar infection, making the overall number of virus-infected patients 200 – ‘more than double the number reported just a day earlier’.
The virus has now made its way to South Korea where a Chinese woman became a vector, testing positive for the pathogenic strain after landing at Incheon International Airport on Sunday, from Wuhan. Not only South Korea but cases have also been reported in Thailand and Japan – the vectors being people who traveled from Wuhan to the respective country.
Public health officers are highly concerned about a possible worldwide outbreak of the mysterious infection given a large number of people traveling to and from the country, especially for the Lunar New Year holiday, starting from this Friday.
In a statement released to the public on Sunday, the government told the people that the situation was under control, and the “epidemic was still preventable and controllable”. However, the source and the transmission of the virus is still now known.
According to the press release, “The mutation of the virus still needs to be closely monitored. Of the new patients found in Wuhan over the weekend, 66 were men and 70 women, and their ages ranged from 25 to 89, the health commission reported on Monday. It said that they mostly had symptoms such as fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.”
According to the officials, the majority of the people with the infection got it from “exposure to animals at a market in Wuhan that sells seafood and live animals”. However, there were some exceptions where the patients hadn’t been inside or in the vicinity of a market.
Director of the Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, David Hui, said, “If you cannot find the source and control the source of the virus, you cannot extinguish the fire”.
He also said that the probability of the spreading of the disease from ‘human-to-human’ transmission was considerably low.
The World Health Organization also broke silence on the subject, tweeting, “While there is currently no clear evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, we do not have enough evidence to evaluate the full extent of human-to-human transmission. This is one of the issues that @WHO is monitoring closely.”
It further added, “According to the latest information received and @WHO analysis, there is evidence of limited human-to-human transmission of #nCOV.
This is in line with experience with other respiratory illnesses and in particular with other coronavirus outbreaks.”