What we know about new coronavirus outbreak in Chinese city of Wuhan

 | Updated: Jan 19, 2020, 07:09 PM IST

Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) say a new strain of coronavirus is behind the outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, which has erupted just ahead of the Lunar New Year, the country's biggest festival. Here's what we know of the outbreak so far.

Wuhan disease outbreak

As of January 19, there were 65 confirmed cases of patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus. All patients were either Wuhan residents or people who recently went to the city. Their symptoms included fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Of the 62 patients in Wuhan itself, two have died and 19 have been discharged.



Thailand has also reported two confirmed cases of pneumonia, both of whom were Chinese tourists from Wuhan. Japan has also confirmed one case of a Japanese citizen who visited Wuhan.

Health officials say the strain does not appear as lethal as some other strains of coronavirus such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide during a 2002/03 outbreak that also originated from China.



Chinese authorities say the outbreak is strongly linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, but some patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus deny exposure to this market.

Wuhan municipal authorities released information about a married couple that contracted the virus on January 15. The husband, who got sick first, worked at the market but the wife denied any exposure to the market in question.

The authorities did not explicitly state whether this was a case of human-to-human transmission, however.



Health officials say there is no clear evidence the virus spreads easily from one person to another, but they cannot completely rule out the possibility of human-to-human transmission.

In photo: Security guards stand in front of the closed wholesale seafood market, where health authorities say a man who died from a respiratory illness had purchased goods from, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province. 



There is no vaccine for the new virus. Symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing as well as pneumonic infiltrates in the lungs.



Chinese authorities have stepped up monitoring and disinfection efforts ahead of the lunar new year holiday in late January when many of the country's 1.4 billion people will travel domestically and overseas.

Airport authorities in the United States as well as many Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea, have stepped up screening of passengers from Wuhan.

The World Health Organization sent directives to hospitals around the world on infection prevention and control. It has advised against travel or trade restrictions based on available information, however.

In photo: Tourist line-up in a health control at the arrival section at Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Thailand.

(Text from Reuters)