Medical staff carry a box from at the Jinyintan hospital, where patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
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As coronavirus spreads to more Chinese cities, WHO calls emergency meeting

21 Comments
By Se Young Lee and Colin Qian

An outbreak of a new coronavirus has spread to more Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing and Shanghai, authorities said on Monday, and a fourth case has been reported beyond China's borders.

China's National Health Commission confirmed that the virus, which causes a type of pneumonia, can pass from person-to-person, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

President Xi Jinping said curbing the outbreak and saving lives was a top priority as the number of patients more than tripled and a third person died.

Adding to the difficulties of containing it, hundreds of millions of Chinese will be travelling domestically and abroad during the Lunar New Year holiday that starts this week.

Authorities around the globe, including in the United States and many Asian countries, have stepped up screening of travellers from Wuhan, the central city where the virus was first discovered.

"Wuhan is a major hub and with travel being a huge part of the fast approaching Chinese New Year, the concern level must remain high. There is more to come from this outbreak," said Jeremy Farrar, a specialist in infectious disease epidemics and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity.

Authorities confirmed a total of 217 new cases of the virus in China as of 6 p.m. local time on Monday, state television reported, 198 of which were in Wuhan.

Five new cases were confirmed in Beijing and 14 more in Guangdong province, the report said. Another statement confirmed a new case in Shanghai, bringing the number of known cases worldwide to 222.

"People's lives and health should be given top priority and the spread of the outbreak should be resolutely curbed," President Xi was quoted as saying by state television.

The virus belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China.

Its symptoms include fever and difficulty in breathing, which are similar to many other respiratory diseases and pose complications for screening efforts.

Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak, confirmed that two cases of infection in Guangdong province were due to human-to-human transmission, Xinhua said. Some medical staff have been infected, it added, but gave no number.

BEYOND BORDERS

South Korea on Monday confirmed its first case, a 35-year-old Chinese national who had travelled from Wuhan, the fourth patient reported outside China.

Last week, two cases were reported in Thailand and one in Japan. All three involved people from Wuhan or who recently visited the city.

A report by London Imperial College's MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis estimated that by Jan. 12 there were 1,723 cases in Wuhan City with onset of related symptoms. Chinese health authorities have not commented directly on the report.

"This outbreak is extremely concerning. Uncertainty and gaps remain, but it is now clear that there is person to person transmission," Farrar said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday "an animal source" appeared most likely to be the primary source of the outbreak and that some "limited human-to-human transmission" occurred between close contacts.

The Geneva-based U.N. agency later convened an emergency committee for Wednesday to assess whether the outbreak constitutes an international health emergency and what measures should be taken to manage it.

So far, the WHO has not recommended trade or travel restrictions, but a panel of independent experts could do so or make other recommendations to limit spread.

China's state council reiterated the government will step up prevention efforts and find the source of infection and transmission channels as soon as possible, state television said on Monday.

Shares in pharmaceutical firms and mask makers in China surged Monday because of the outbreak.

"Who knows how many people who have been to Wuhan may be unaware that they have already been infected?," said one commentator on Chinese social media platform Weibo

The state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial the government needs to disclose all information and not repeat the mistakes made with SARS. Chinese officials covered up the SARS outbreak for weeks before a growing death toll and rumors forced it to reveal the epidemic.

"Concealment would be a serious blow to the government's credibility and might trigger greater social panic," the editorial said.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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Why does no one mention the 90 cases in Hongkong ?

And with the many Chinese tourists in Japan it is a matter of time before we have more infections here.

for sure China has already thousands of cases not hundreds and their priority is to conceal not prevent or cure.

concentrating efforts on Wuhan is far to little and too late.

And of course the virus is transmittable from human to human, the early notice it was “ in a limited “ way transferable is ludicrous.

there is no solution to prevent it from spreading since impossible to ban travel. China once again did not act as a responsible member of the international society but nothing’s new there.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

"Its symptoms include fever and difficulty in breathing, which are similar to many other respiratory diseases and pose complications for screening efforts.

How deadly?

Just another flu? Or worse?

Inquiring minds want to know.™

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This could pose especially troubling problems for a aging society like Japan's where the elderly are more vulnerable to the symptoms

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I hope the Chinese get this under control. Humanity may shrug at this story, but one day a virus will spread like an Australian wildfire and cause global mayhem.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

For sure China has already thousands of cases not hundreds and their priority is to conceal not prevent or cure.

This! And lunar new year is starting this weekend so expect a serious increase in infections here as well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ban all travel from China until they’ve got it under control

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is all great news and information but what is Japan doing to protect us from those coming in from countries infected by this virus? Are people coming in being quarantined for a period before being allowed the rest of the way in? IF it spreads this quickly then it means this is airborne caused by sneezing i.e. "blasting". Why doesn't Japan with the media get the word out more about the spread of viruses caused by sneezing and how it spreads to others. I saw several people yesterday at the grocery store in the produce section just blasting away, another one at the open deli and fish areas just blasting away and not covering up. If the education and word gets out eventually people will follow the message.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For the past 10 days I have had a viral infection which has impacted my internal organs and has caused a chronic headache.

Of course it is a heavy cold but the duration is noticeably longer than I can previously recall.

My family do not have any symptoms at all as I am careful to keep my distance to prevent transmission.

However, I noticed the same infection in a family of three people on Sunday, the mother and daughter were constantly coughing in a public place.

Viral infections spread rapidly and in built up crowded areas are virtually unstoppable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

robert maes:

Why does no one mention the 90 cases in Hongkong ?

Any links to your claims?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope the Chinese get this under control

Wishful thinking. Japan needs to close the border and right now!!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Stay away from places like Asakasa where the Chinese love to go and where the crowds are thick.  I teach there every week and from next week I will be wearing a mask until I get to my class.  Scary, really and unbelievable that they are not putting a full ban on people coming over until the situation is under control.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Go get an pneumonia shot, if will give you ample protection

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Ashley Shiba

I teach there every week and from next week I will be wearing a mask until I get to my class.

The virus can easily enter through your eyes. Good luck.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Pukey2:

Its more than 90 now: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/china-reports-more-200-infections-new-coronavirus-wuhan

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Telework to avoid crowded train.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"People's lives and health should be given top priority and the spread of the outbreak should be resolutely curbed," President Xi was quoted as saying by state television.

Yes exactly and therefore that is why any travel from China should be banned until the authorities there have got this virus under control.

No one leaves under any circumstances, contain and eradicate it now, prevent the spread of it especially to the outside world.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes exactly and therefore that is why any travel from China should be banned until the authorities there have got this virus under control.

and travel to China should be banned.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

*"New Chinese virus 'will have infected hundreds' ... Instead they say the virus has crossed the species barrier and come from infected animals at a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan."

*BBC NEWS FEED. This is why there was an emergency meeting. Any virus that spreads from Animal to human, then the possibility of human to human is a wake up call to the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gov said here in Australia that they were keeping an eye on it and we had nothing to worry about. ....

If our gov said that..... Thats when you should be worried.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

papiguilio:

its more than 90 now: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/china-reports-more-200-infections-new-coronavirus-wuhan

Yes, I read that, and my original question is where on earth does it say, and I quote robert maes:

90 cases in Hongkong

Is this fake news, or are people here not capable of reading?

This is how rumours and gossip start. There are about 200 confirmed cases in China. Are you saying that Hong Kong makes up for nearly half of that?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Is this fake news, or are people here not capable of reading?

Yes, this is quite possibly fake news. It has been reported that there are far more cases of the virus than the media are reporting, that is why the Governments of the world are starting to warn its citizens.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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