China: Confirmed cases increase as coronavirus spreads

An outbreak of a new pneumonia-like illness was first reported to the World Health Organisation on the 31st December 2019, and as confirmed cases of the coronavirus increase, fears of major global outbreak are growing.

WHO indicates there are still many unknowns, but Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a the coronaviruses, the same family of the deadly SARS and MERS viruses.
The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says 136 new cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus strain had been found over the weekend, adding to 62 already known cases, including the first cases in the capital. Three people have died and total known infections exceed 200.

The virus continues to spread throughout the country, with two individuals in Beijing and one in the southern city of Shenzhen, being amongst the confirmed cases. The three people had visited Wuhan, where the viral pneumonia appears to have originated.

A statistical analysis from the Imperial College London’s infectious disease research centre estimates that the number of infections in Wuhan is probably far higher in reality, predicting the number to be nearer 1,700 cases.

South Korea has detected its first case, adding to those found in Thailand and Japan last week, and three US airports, together with airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia, have be-gun to screen incoming passengers.

Concerns are growing that the amount of infections may intensify further as millions have begun travelling for the lunar New Year, which can see up to 3 billion trips across the country.

It was originally hoped that the virus was only transmitted from animals to humans, but recent reports confirm that the new pathogen transmits among humans, increasing the chances of it spreading even faster.

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