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HomeGlobal PulseCoronavirus outbreak — how this new strain is wreaking havoc across China

Coronavirus outbreak — how this new strain is wreaking havoc across China

China's National Health Commission confirmed that the new strain of the coronavirus can be transmitted from person-to-person.

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New Delhi: A previously unknown respiratory virus is rapidly spreading across China and has resulted in the death of four individuals. Chinese officials and the World Health Organisation concluded that the infections are being caused by a new strain of coronavirus that has previously not been identified in humans.

China’s National Health Commission (CNHC) said that the virus can be transmitted from person-to-person Monday, after the fourth death was reported. More than 200 individuals have reportedly been infected by this virus. This revelation has raised fears among people who are preparing to travel to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year.

While Chinese authorities claim that 200 cases of the virus have been confirmed, experts in the UK said that the number could be as high as 1700.

Spreading across China 

The new strain of the coronavirus seems to have originated in Wuhan, but has now spread to other major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Cases have also been reported in Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

“Authorities had previously said that the new strain of coronavirus, which was traced by health officials to a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, was primarily passed from animals to humans,” noted CNN.

Zhong Nanshan, who heads the team set up by the CNHC, and helped discover the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, said that while the respiratory virus is not as strong as SARS, “the disease was climbing”.

He went on to note that the death rate did not adequately represent the seriousness of the virus.

What is this new virus?

The respiratory infection is caused by a formerly unknown strain of the coronavirus.

“Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people,” reported BBC.

“Coronaviruses can cause symptoms ranging from a mild cold all the way through to death. This new virus appears to be somewhere in the middle,” it added.

“When we see a new coronavirus, we want to know how severe are the symptoms — this is more than cold-like symptoms and that is a concern but it is not as severe as SARS,” Mark Woolhouse from the University of Edinburgh told the BBC.

SARS, which had spread across across Asia in 2002-03, was also a coronavirus. The pandemic had affected 8,098 people and resulted in the death of 774 individuals.

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