CHINESE authorities and the World Health Organization say the new strain of coronavirus is behind the outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan that has now spread to other parts of the country.
There is no vaccine for the new virus.
As of Jan. 21, there were more than 200 confirmed cases of patients in China and elsewhere with the new strain of coronavirus. Their symptoms included fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. Of the 198 patients in Wuhan itself, four have died.
National and local health authorities in China have also reported 21 patients outside of Wuhan, including five in Beijing and two in Shanghai, marking the first instances of the virus spreading to other parts of the country.
South Korea on Jan. 20 reported a new case of the virus involving a Chinese traveler from Wuhan.
Thailand has reported two confirmed cases of the virus, both of whom were Chinese tourists from Wuhan.
Japan also confirmed one case of a Japanese citizen who visited Wuhan.
Chinese health authorities are still trying to determine the origin of the virus, which has been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan. The WHO says an animal source appears most likely to be the primary source of the outbreak.
Chinese authorities have stepped up monitoring and disinfection efforts ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in late January, when many of China’s 1.4 billion people will travel domestically and overseas.
Airport authorities in the United States as well as many Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea, stepped up screening of passengers from Wuhan.
Singapore announced on Jan. 21 that it will quarantine individuals with pneumonia and travel history to Wuhan within 14 days before the onset of symptoms.
The WHO sent directives to hospitals around the world on infection prevention and control. It has also convened an emergency committee of experts on Jan. 22 to assess whether the outbreak constitutes an international emergency. – Reuters