Central China is facing a growing threat from a pneumonia outbreak with over 200 people now diagnosed with the new SARS like virus which according to health experts is spreading from person to person.
The mysterious illness has continued to cause panic within China just a few days away from the Chinese New Year, a holiday season which is known for high traffic movements across the country with over 3 billion trips as people reunite with family.
There is fear of the virus spreading rapidly during the Chinese New Year celebration with increased testing done so as to understand more about the virus which has left several people with fever like symptoms and coughing. More cases were reported over the weekend.
Central Chinese city, Wuhan which has been at the center of the outbreak has amassed over 200 confirmed cases including three fatalities. Cases were also reported in Beijing and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. Across the region, South Korea detected its first case, adding to those found in Thailand and Japan last week.
At the rate at which the SARS like virus is spreading, there’s cause for concern and with that said, other parts of the world like Europe and Africa should be on high alert with preventive measures already in place to combat the mysterious disease.
Central China continues to face growing threat from SARS like virus affecting cities like Wuhan and other provinces
The surge in incidences, after the World Health Organization released guidance for diagnostic detection of the virus Friday, confirmed that the new pathogen is being transmitted among humans, and not just from animals to humans as was originally hoped.
But there are no reports yet of health-care workers being infected, a sign that the new virus is likely not as infectious as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which killed almost 800 people 17 years ago.
“It is clear that there is at least some human-to-human transmission from the evidence we have, but we don’t have clear evidence that shows the virus has acquired the capacity to transmit among humans easily,” said Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s regional director for the western pacific, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday. “We need more information to analyze that.”
Meanwhile, several other countries around the world have increased on the screening of incoming travelers ahead of the Chinese holiday that starts this Friday. International airports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco started screening from late Friday, joining cities in Asia that implemented surveillance measure days after the outbreak was reported on Dec. 31.
In Wuhan, health-care workers spread out across the city of 11 million, screening for symptoms among people on planes and at railway stations.
“This is a situation where we’re going to see additional cases all around the world as folks look for it more,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Friday. “It’s highly plausible that there will be at least a case in the United States, and that’s the reason that we’re moving forward so quickly with this screening.”
It’s possible that more than 1,700 people in Wuhan have been infected with the virus, Neil Ferguson and colleagues at Imperial College London said in a study Friday. Their analysis was based on cases reported outside China last week, with the assumption that it takes five or six days for someone to feel unwell after being infected, and another four or five days for the infection to be detected.
A quick review on the mysterious SARS-like illness
The novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has triggered alarm because of similarities with the one that sparked SARS 17 years ago. That outbreak started with sporadic infections and gathered speed as it passed though Singapore’s hospitals before spreading around the world, hurting companies and economies.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people, and others that circulate among animal, including camels, cats, and bats, the CDC said. While rare, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people, and then spread between people.
The source and transmission routes of the 2019-nCov virus are still unknown, China’s National Health Commission said in a statement on Sunday.
Cases reported so far
Apart from two cases confirmed in Beijing recently, officials in Thailand also reported two cases last week, while Japan confirmed a case on Thursday. All of them either lived in Wuhan or had spent time there, though none was linked to the seafood market.
According to health authorities, about 198 cases of those infected have been cured and a further three had been discharged from the hospital. Currently, 170 cases are being treated in isolation wards at various hospitals, of which 126 cases are mild, 35 are severe, and nine cases are critically ill.
Of the 136 patients reported over the weekend, 66 were male and 70 were female; the youngest was 25 years old and the oldest was 89. The most recent illness occurred before Saturday, and initial symptoms were mostly fever, cough or chest tightness, and difficulty breathing.
Chinese authorities said the outbreak is “still preventable and controllable,” in an attempt to reassure the public as hundreds of millions of people prepare to travel ahead of the country’s biggest annual festivities.
Article source: Bloomberg
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.