China's Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei addresses a news conference in Beijing on the outbreak of the new coronavirus.(REUTERS)
China's Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei addresses a news conference in Beijing on the outbreak of the new coronavirus.(REUTERS)

China warns Coronavirus transmission ability getting stronger, braces for more cases

The warning came as the number of cases continued to surge and Shanghai, a megacity of more than 24 million people reported its first death from the virus.
Hindustan Times, Beijing | By Sutirtho Patranobis
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2020 04:32 PM IST

China on Sunday said the transmission ability of the novel Coronavirus is getting stronger and the number of new cases will continue to grow as Beijing scrambles to contain the outbreak which has claimed 56 lives and infected more than 2000 globally.

“The spreading ability of the virus is getting stronger,” national health commission (NHC) minister, Ma Xiaowei said Sunday, adding that the quickness with which the contagious infection is multiplying has put “extra pressure” on the ongoing efforts to contain it.

The warning came as the number of cases continued to surge and Shanghai, a megacity of more than 24 million people reported its first death from the virus.

In Wuhan, at the epicentre of the outbreak severe shortages of resources including protective suits were reported with government officials in Beijing saying factories are being asked to increase their production capacities.

Ma added that the risks associated with the mutation of this previously unknown virus – from the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or Sars – were not clear and “…because it is a new virus, there could be changes”.

Ma added that in the coming days, “…the number of infections might continue to grow”.

He said that containment measures across China will be stepped up in the coming days.

For one, on Sunday China announced a ban on wildlife trade during the outbreak, prompted by the suspicion that the disease comes from a seafood and fish market in Wuhan which also sold wild animals.

Addressing a packed press conference in Beijing on Sunday, Ma said the incubation period for the Coronavirus can range from one to 14 days, and that the virus is infectious during the period incubation defined as the time between infection and the onset of symptoms.

This particular characteristic makes it different from the Sars, another coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally between 2002 and 2003.

Speaking at the same press conference, the director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, the virus had shown little change since its discovery, adding that scientists will need more time to detect minute alterations if they occur.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday warned that the spread of a deadly new virus is accelerating.

During a special government meeting on the Lunar New Year public holiday he told officials China is facing a “grave situation”.

Ma added that China is at a “crucial time” to prevent and control the novel coronavirus outbreak as the ongoing one-week LNY holiday is the best time to allow “…massive isolation and disinfection to take effect”.

The raging outbreak has prompted widening curbs on movements within China, with Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on virtual lockdown, with transports links to city all but severed except for emergency vehicles.

Transport restrictions have been put in place in several other cities in the province of Hubei and upwards of 35 million are said to be affected by them.

Several Chinese universities across the country have postponed their entrance exams or spring terms amid the spread of novel coronavirus.

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