We Might Have a New Public Health Emergency on Our Hands - Page 2

New type of coronavirus has killed 17 in China, and WHO is meeting to discuss classification
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2020 1:13 PM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2020 2:13 PM CST

  • Blame bats?: China's Bureau of Disease Prevention and Control said Wednesday that the virus originated in wild animals sold at a Wuhan seafood market, which has been closed for disinfection since Jan. 1, but the exact culprit has not been determined. On Tuesday, researchers suggested the "natural host could be bats … but between bats and humans there could be an unknown intermediate." The South China Morning Post reports the virus, like SARS, is a mutation of HKU9-1 virus found in fruit bats.
  • Comparison: Though the virus is considered "highly infectious," it is apparently weaker than and not as virulent as SARS, which infected more than 8,000 people during a 2002-03 pandemic, killing 774. Also in the coronavirus family: MERS, which infected nearly 2,500 people in the early 2010s, killing more than 850. Coronaviruses are typically found in animals, but can jump to humans; they're not always serious—sometimes they simply cause the common cold.
  • In Wuhan: It's now mandatory to wear face masks in public places in Wuhan, per CNN, and infrared thermometers are screening for fevers in the city home to some 11 million people. Business Insider describes a "soft quarantine" imposed by China's health commission. "Basically, do not go to Wuhan," vice minister Li Bin said Wednesday. "And those in Wuhan please do not leave the city." That could prove a challenge with travel peaking amid the Lunar New Year.
  • It's well-connected: Wuhan, China's seventh largest city and about the size of London, is "one of the biggest—and most connected—places in the world," reports the BBC. CNN notes there are more than 60 routes connecting Wuhan with other countries.
  • In the US: All US arrivals from Wuhan are being routed through New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta, where they'll also be screened. More than 1,200 people have been screened so far, with no cases surfacing, per the Washington Post.
  • Trump responds: President Trump said Wednesday that the only confirmed US case was "one person from China and we have it totally under control," per NPR. Reports describe a man in his 30s hospitalized in Seattle after visiting relatives in China. The Post notes he's "not considered seriously ill."
  • Elsewhere: The virus has also spread to Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, which reported its first case on Wednesday. There's also an unconfirmed case in Tamaulipas, Mexico, per CNN, and a man in Australia is undergoing testing, per the Guardian. NPR reports that "even North Korea has suspended all foreign tourism activities as a precaution."
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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