mysterious lung disease in china: a surge in cases

Posted by tzul at 2020-03-14

PEKING (dpa-AFX) After the outbreak of the mysterious lung disease in China, the number of confirmed cases has risen to around 200. Another patient died. Thus, there are now three deaths, as reported by the health authority of the Central Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday. For the first time, infections with the novel corona virus were also detected elsewhere in China.

In Daxing district in Beijing, two patients tested positive for the new Coronavirus, in Shenzhen in South China. All three had been to Wuhan before. Most of the infections continued to focus on the 11-million metropolis with 198 cases. Of the patients there are 35 severely ill, nine in critical condition, as reported by the health authority.

By Sunday, only around 60 cases had been officially confirmed. But researchers at the British Center for the Analysis of Global Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London assume that the spread of the disease is much greater than previously known. According to their probability calculations, the experts estimate the number of patients at more than 1700.

Experts also warn against a possible transmission of the virus from person to person. China's Health Commission urged caution in Beijing because the origin of the new type of Coronavirus has not yet been found. Also, do not be sure how people infected themselves: "The transmission is not yet fully understood." Nevertheless, experts considered the outbreak "controllable".

It is believed that the new virus comes from the animal world. The initial infections were linked to a closed fish market in Wuhan, where wild animals were also sold. Coronaviruses often cause harmless diseases such as colds, but they also include agents of dangerous respiratory diseases such as sars and Mers.

Also the Sars virus, which is similar to the new pathogen, was probably from the animal world. Sars stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which means severe acute respiratory syndrome. In the Sars pandemic, 2002/2003 was a disease of lung disease from China around the world around 8000. Barely 800 died. At the time, the outbreak was initially covered up, which prevented a rapid reaction and initially favoured its spread.

More than a week ago, experts had deciphered the gene sequence of the new virus, which facilitates testing in patients with pneumonia of unknown cause. There are already cases abroad. Two infections have been confirmed in Thailand and one case has been confirmed in Japan by travellers from Wuhan. However, the three patients had not visited the animal market where the origin is suspected. This alerted experts to a human-to-human transmission.

The World Health Organisation has not yet issued any travel warnings for tourists. However, the US Health Authority (CDC) advised travellers to Wuhan, animal markets and avoid contact with animals or with sick persons." A limited transfer from person to person could occur,"the communication said.

Asian neighbours have carefully introduced fever controls for Chinese immigrants. The U.S. airports in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles also perform health checks on travellers from Wuhan. The risk of transmission of infectious diseases is still growing with the current wave of travel to the Chinese New Year's Eve next Saturday. In the largest annual migration of people, several hundred million Chinese are on the move.