The mysterious coronavirus that has killed at least three people and sickened more than 200 in China is now capable of spreading from person to person, a prominent Chinese scientist said on Monday, adding to fears of a broader pandemic. The disclosure increased pressure on the Chinese government to contain a growing public health crisis, just as China enters its busiest travel season of the year.
The authorities had previously said the deadly virus seemed capable of spreading only from animals to humans in most cases, tracing the outbreak to a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. But in recent days at least two people have become infected with the pneumonialike virus even though they live hundreds of miles from Wuhan, experts said on Monday, suggesting that the illness is spreading from person to person.
“Now we can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon,” Zhong Nanshan, a scientist who is leading a government-appointed expert panel on the outbreak, said in an interview on state-run television on Monday.
The World Health Organization announced Monday that it was convening an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22, “to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it.” Millions of Chinese are traveling this week for the Lunar New Year holiday, adding to fears that the virus could spread swiftly and on a broader scale. Experts said the severity of the outbreak would now depend on how many people, on average, a person with virus could infect.
“There are now sufficient cases that it’s not going to die out by chance,” said Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College London who has studied the new virus. “The real question now is, how efficiently can this virus spread from person to person?”
Also on Monday, the authorities reported that new cases had been detected for the first time in Beijing, in Shanghai and the southern city of Shenzhen, all hundreds of miles from Wuhan. Cases have also been reported in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Many of the cases were connected to the Huanan Seafood Market, which also sold live poultry and exotic animal meats. Considered a likely source of the virus, the market was closed and disinfected.
The health commission in Wuhan said on Sunday that the illness had also appeared in people who had not been exposed to the market, raising the possibility that the virus could be present elsewhere in the city.
Local officials have pledged to handle the outbreak with transparency. But the memory of how China initially covered up the extent of a deadly SARS outbreak that infected more than 8,000 people in 2002 and 2003 has not completely faded. Although flu experts have said the Chinese government is trying to be more transparent now, many in China remain skeptical. Over the weekend, the number of reported cases more than tripled to about 200, mostly in Wuhan. One more person in the city died, bringing the total death toll to three, while nine others remained critically ill, the city’s health commission said. Twenty-five people have recovered.
On Monday, five new cases were reported in Beijing, 14 in Guangdong Province, and one in Shanghai — the first cases reported in China outside Wuhan. The total number of cases climbed to at least 218, state media reported on Monday. The World Health Organization said the spike in reported cases was the result of increased searching and testing for respiratory illnesses.
Experts initially said that it did not appear to be readily spread by humans, but on Monday Mr. Zhong said that in Guangdong, a southern province, two individuals appeared to have been infected by relatives who had traveled to Wuhan. Mr. Zhong said the virus could be present in particles of saliva. He added that in one case, a patient appeared to have infected 14 medical workers.
Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, like the sun’s corona. Such viruses cause several illnesses of the respiratory tract, ranging from the common cold to severe diseases like SARS. According to the World Health Organization, common signs of infection include fever, cough, and respiratory difficulties like shortness of breath. Serious cases can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/20/worl ... ptoms.htmlTo prevent the spread of respiratory infections, the W.H.O. recommends that people wash their hands regularly, cover their mouths and noses when coughing and sneezing, and avoid direct contact with farm or wild animals.
There is a fear that China is lying about the number of cases.
SARS - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
https://www.cdc.gov/sars/index.htmlhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/prevention.htmlSevere acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained.
Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world.
Just an alert, no cases reported in the US. There are no vaccines for coronaviruses.