China has witnessed a significant outbreak of a mysterious respiratory virus which has killed three people and has infected around 220 more. Such a scenario could give rise to the possibility of a deadly epidemic, similar to the one previously experienced 17 years back.
The virus was confirmed to be spreading from one person to another as there have been two such incidents reported where the medical staff, too, had been infected. It was confirmed by Zhong Nanshan, who is the head of the investigation team set up by China’s National Health Commission assigned to investigate this pneumonia-like virus.
A few authorities claim that this new strain of Coronavirus, which was primarily passed from animals to humans, is now traced to a seafood market located in Wuhan, a central Chinese city.
It could lead to a major outbreak of the virus as millions of people in China are making preparations to travel the world for the Lunar New Year Holiday. Zhong, who had previously been part of the team which helped to discover the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003; also said that this virus was not as strong as SARS, but the death rate caused by it is not so representative.
The virus was first discovered and surfaced at Wuhan, and the commutation of residents of Wuhan to foreign countries has resulted in the spreading of the disease to Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, each of which is hundreds of miles from Wuhan. Japan and South Korea have each supported one case, while Thailand alone has reported 2 cases, raising the global count to 222.
The World Health Organization stated that there was clear evidence of ‘limited human to human transmission’ of the newly discovered virus, which could mean trouble as the country is on the verge of its Lunar New Year holiday. The holiday period usually expects trillions of the Chinese population to travel throughout the country and overseas.
The virus was detected by temperature screening systems installed at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport when a 35-year-old Wuhan resident was boarding a flight to South Korea. She has been quarantined and is currently in a stable condition. She claimed that she had developed a fever and muscle pains and was also prescribed a cold medicine by a doctor in Wuhan.
While the viral infections had been linked to an Wuhan seafood and wildlife market, the store has been closed since the 1st of January to avoid further spreading of the illness. The investigation team of Chinese scientists had identified this pathogen as a strain of Coronavirus, which belongs to the same family of the fatal severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Imperial College London had conducted a new study that suggested that the number of infections in Wuhan might have been underestimated.
According to their calculations, there must have been over 1,700 cases in Wuhan so far. This calculation was based on flight and population data. Three US airports- namely New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have installed infrared thermometers to measure the temperature of passengers departing to the city of Wuhan.
Thus an outbreak of such a deadly epidemic is expected and countries are still taking steps to control and detect this new virus to prevent its spreading to other parts of the world.