The World Health Organisation (WHO) has just confirmed that the deadly Wuhan virus, now identified as the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), can be spread through human-to-human transmission. This was confirmed after 15 medical workers in the central Chinese city of Wuhan were diagnosed with the Wuhan virus and one other suspected case, according to Straits Times.
On Monday (Jan 20th), Wuhan city announced that they have identified 136 new cases of the virus making the total number of people diagnosed to 218, which tripled the number. However, at 6pm on the same day, China Daily says that there are now 224 cases of pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV reported in China. Out of these cases, 217 have been confirmed, with 14 coming from Guangdong Province, five in Beijing and 198 in Wuhan, where the virus first originated.
Currently, the death toll for this virus stands at four, with the earliest recorded death on January 11th. Three other Asian countries – South Korea, Thailand and Japan have also confirmed the existence of Wuhan virus within their borders. Based on a report by CNA, Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at the National Health Commission who helped in uncovering the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, said that the team has confirmed that the virus can be transmitted from human to human.
The Wuhan virus might spread even further, as Chinese New Year approaches and millions of people will be travelling across China or overseas to celebrate the festival. This is the largest human migration that happens every year and Business Insider reports that there may be about 3 billion trips made from January 10th to February 18th.
Commenting on the matter for the first time, President Xi Jinping said “safeguarding people’s lives should be given top priority and that the spread of the epidemic should be resolutely contained.” He urged authorities to release information in a timely manner as well.
However, scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London said that the number of confirmed cases in Wuhan is possibly closer to 1,700. WHO stated that they discovered the new cases in China due to the increased tests they have performed on people who are sick with respiratory illnesses.
Some of the measures that the authorities have taken are to install infrared thermometers at transport hubs such as airports and railway stations. There will be more rigorous screening on people who come in from Hubei as well. The medical staff has been given hazmat suits to wear when treating confirmed cases in the hospital as well.
Remember to go to the doctor if you are feeling unwell, as Malaysia is currently facing influenza cases as well!
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