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Home / World News / Mystery virus spreads across China; 3 dead, 217 infected

Mystery virus spreads across China; 3 dead, 217 infected

The total number of confirmed cases of the infection until Monday evening was 217; at least seven more suspected cases were reported from different parts of China.

world Updated: Jan 20, 2020 19:04 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 18, 2020.
Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 18, 2020. (AFP file photo)

China on Monday reported a third death and more than 160 new cases of the novel Coronavirus including the first cases from Beijing, Shanghai and several provinces including Guangdong, Sichuan and Zhejiang, confirming fears that the previously unknown virus had spread across the country.

The total number of confirmed cases of the infection until Monday evening was 217; at least seven more suspected cases were reported from different parts of China.

A Chinese woman was hospitalised with the Coronavirus in South Korea’s Seoul on Monday after disembarking from a flight from the city of Wuhan in central China where the virus is said to have originated.

The patient is a 35-year-old woman from Wuhan but did not visit the seafood market in the city, which has been connected majority of the cases.

The numbers are set to rise, experts said with a WHO official reiterating the possibility – and danger – of human-to-human transmission.

“It is clear that there is at least some human-to-human transmission from the 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 analyse that.”

Taking note of the situation, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that the country will curb the spread of an outbreak of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus, state television reported.

“People’s lives and health should be given top priority and the spread of the outbreak should be resolutely curbed,” it quoted Xi as saying.

The surge in numbers announced by the Chinese health authorities comes days after an analysis by UK scientists said more than 1700 could actually be infected with the “novel coronavirus”.

The third death was also reported from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, and a university city with a population nearly 11 million and thousands foreign – including Indian – students.

The city has reported 198 cases so far.

The spread of the virus has sparked fears of a wider outbreak as the travel rush for the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays peaks this week.

More than three billion trips are expected to be made during a 40-day rush for the CNY holidays.

As of 6 pm, at least five cases of the disease have been reported in Beijing, two in Shanghai, and as many as 14 in the southern province of Guangdong. The virus has spread to east, southeast, south and southwestern China from central China.

Seven suspected cases were reported from several provinces including the southwestern Sichuan and Shandong in eastern China.

Five new cases of the infection have been reported from the eastern province of Zhejiang.

“Since January 17, 5 cases of patients with respiratory symptoms such as fever have been found in Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Taizhou, and Hangzhou of Zhejiang province, all of whom have been isolated and treated in designated hospitals and are in stable conditions,” the Zhejiang health authorities said in a statement, carried in state media, adding that their close contacts have been put under medical observation.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said Sunday that the pneumonia originating in Wuhan caused by a new type of coronavirus was “preventable and controllable”.

Chinese observers, according to state media, noted although the source and transmission route of the epidemic was not yet fully understood, the government has proposed many preventative measures and China’s notification mechanism for epidemic prevention and control has greatly improved especially since the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in Japan and Thailand.

According to Chinese state media, at least 90 suspected cases have been reported in Hong Kong, while Singapore and Vietnam have also discovered suspected cases.

Chinese health authorities said last week it is possible that the new coronavirus which has sparked fears of an outbreak as hundreds of millions begin travelling in China and outside for the CNY holidays could be passed through human contact but the risk of person-to-person transmission is low.