WHO says new China coronavirus could spread, warns hospitals worldwide

Henrietta Strickland
January 15, 2020

Thai doctors diagnosed a Chinese traveller with mild pneumonia on 8 January which was later confirmed to have been caused by the so-called novel corona virus - which has already given rise to 41 pneumonia-like cases and one death in China.

The health authorities of the Wuhan city in the central Chinese province of Hubei have admitted that human-to-human transmission of the newly registered type of coronavirus is a possibility to not be ruled out despite no explicit evidence available at the moment.

Coronaviruses can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to viruses such as Sars, which killed hundreds during an outbreak in 2002-3.

Some types of the virus cause less serious diseases, while others are far more severe.

It was reported on Monday (Jan 13) that a Chinese tourist was found infected with the new strain of coronavirus when she arrived in Thailand (see story here).

The woman, who was quarantined on Wednesday, had received treatment and was well enough to return home, the ministry said. "We are confident that we can manage the situation", Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters.

After the official name for the new coronavirus that originates in Wuhan, China, was revealed on Monday (Jan. 13), many global experts were surprised to find that neither of the two places were included in the title of the disease.

Dr Maria D van Kerkhove, the head of the WHO's emerging diseases and zoonoses unit, said the coronavirus held "many similarities" to SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

The Chinese outbreak appeared to be linked to a single seafood market in Wuhan and had not so far spread beyond there, the World Health Organization said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will consult with global experts to assess the public health risks of outbreaks and decide whether an emergency meeting is needed, it said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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