A mysterious pneumonia outbreak has infected over 50 people in the Chinese city of Wuhan is from the same family of viruses that were involved in the deadly SARS outbreak. The deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS outbreak happened in 2003. Over 8,000 people were infected at that time and the deadly virus had claimed the lives of more than 700 people, with almost 300 in Hong Kong only. The scientists have discovered a new coronavirus in 15 out of over 50 patients in China’s commercial center Wuhan, Hubei province. A state broadcaster reported that a sample from one of the patients has shown typical coronavirus appearance. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Coronaviruses can cause illnesses ranging from SARS to common cold.
Coronavirus shows a wide range of symptoms, from coughing to fever to kidney failure. In the worst cases, it can lead to death. The outbreak comes just ahead of the lunar New Year holidays, one of the biggest celebrations in China. Many people will be travelling to see their family and friends but they are alarmed because of this outbreak. Though the World Health Organization issued a statement saying the disease ‘does not transmit readily between people,’ but underlined that it could cause severe illness in some patients. The virus is also behind the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012. It was first identified in 2012 and has so far claimed 851 globally, according to the WHO.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong has activated its ‘serious’ response mechanism and has increased screening at airports. Hong Kong’s food and health secretary Sophia Chan has said that there had been 38 suspected cases of the outbreak. However, none had been confirmed as related to the Wuhan outbreak. Reports claim that the virus broke out between 12 to 29 December. Some of those who were infected by it worked at a market selling live animals and seafood. The market has been since closed for disinfection.