City of Wuhan is the epicentre . . .
A new strain of coronavirus, which produces pneumonia-like symptoms, has killed two people and left at least 40 people sick in China since the country first reported the outbreak on December 31. The epicentre of the virus was initially thought to be the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China. The market was closed on January 1 and disinfected, but cases have continued to appear. The few people reported in Thailand and Japan that have contracted the virus, and the suspected case in Singapore, visited Wuhan, but not the Huanan market, suggesting that the virus has spread throughout city.
Not a new SARS . . .
Chinese authorities, which formally identified the new strain on January 7, and the World Health Organization say that is likely the new virus spread from animals to humans. The SARS virus, which also originated in China, jumped from mammals to humans and spread around the world in the early 2000s, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing more than 800 people worldwide. Unlike SARS, however, there are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of this new coronavirus.
Precautions ahead of Lunar New Year . . .
January 24 marks the first day of the Lunar New Year and the start of a month-long holiday in China that typically sees hundreds of millions of Chinese travel domestically and internationally. Given that the virus incubation period could be around two weeks, some authorities say that cases could spread over the holidays. The WHO, however, is not recommending any specific health measures for travellers at this time. Top international destinations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan, say they are taking extra precautions. Metro Vancouver, Greater Toronto, and Montreal are popular Canadian destinations during this period as well. The three airports in the U.S. that see the most direct and connecting flights from China have started screening passengers for the virus.
- The Washington Post: Travelers at 3 US airports to be screened for new, potentially deadly virus
- The New York Times: Japan and Thailand confirm new cases of Chinese coronavirus
- World Health Organization: Coronavirus