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Current Affairs

New Virus emerges in China

Date: 15 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

China has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City, Hubei Province.

 

Background

Chinese public health officials have began carrying out environmental assessments at a wholesale market and trying to identify the microbe causing the outbreak.

 

Details

The WHO issued a statement saying Chinese researchers have made preliminary determination of the virus as a novel coronavirus in a person with pneumonia.

The researchers were able to determine the virus by sequencing the genome of the novel virus using an isolate taken from an infected patient.

 

Coronaviruses

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less severe common cold to more severe diseases such as the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

  • While SARS coronavirus was transmitted from civet cats to humans in China in 2002, MERS coronavirus was from dromedary camels to humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

  • The clinical signs and symptoms of the patients are mainly fever and fatigue, accompanied by dry cough, with a few having difficulty in breathing, and chest radiographs showing fluid in both lungs.

  • So far the virus doesn’t seem to have the ability to spread from one person to another as the infection has not been found in any of the close contacts. 

  • China has shared the whole genome sequence data with WHO and submitted them to the Global initiative on sharing all influenza data (GISAID) platform to allow researchers across the world to access the data.

  • Sharing the data with GISAID will hep other countries to quickly identify the virus in infected people and provide care, and also develop specific diagnostic kits, drugs and even vaccines.