The already-announced pneumonia outbreak coming from China, caused by a virus similar to the new SARS, is said to have spread from person to person.
In the midst of increased searching and testing for the new virus carried by people presenting symptoms like fever and coughing, the number of cases in China has soared over the last weekend.
Wuhan, the Chinese city at the core of the outbreak, now has approximately 200 confirmed cases. People infected with the virus were also confirmed in Beijing and in Guangdong province in the southern part of the country. Moreover, South Korea has also identified a case, adding to those detected in Thailand and Japan.
The increase in incidents showed that the new virus is being spread among humans, and not just from animals to humans, as it was initially hoped. However, there are no reports of health-care workers being contaminated, which is a sign that the pathogen is probably not as infectious as SARS.
“It is clear that there is at least some human-to-human transmission from 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. “We need more information to analyze that.”
It All Traces Back to Wuhan
The cases have initiated a rally in drugmakers’ shares, with antibiotic manufacturers’ grossing surging by 10 percent daily limit in early trading. The new coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has been found to be pretty similar to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, that appeared 17 years ago.
Coronaviruses are a big collective of viruses, some causing illness, and others that are spreading among animals, such as camels, cats, and bats, the CDC stated. It is rare, but animal coronaviruses can develop and infect people as well, then spread between them.
According to China’s National Health Commission, the origins and transmission pathways of the 2019-nCov pathogen are unclear to this day. Some of the first cases confirmed were people who worked or shopped at a seafood market in Wuhan, where live animals and wildlife parts are also sold.
Two cases have been identified in Beijing, with both patients having a history of travel to Wuhan. Thai officials have also reported two cases, and Japan conformed having a patient carrying the virus. All of those people either lived in Wuhan or spent time in the city, but none was directly associated to the seafood market.