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Chinese pneumonia outbreak: All you need to know about this mysterious virus

The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever, though a few patients have reported having difficulty in breathing. © Shutterstock

The mysterious virus, which first emerged in Wuhan, China last month, can cause severe pneumonia. Read on to learn more about this new deadly virus -

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : January 20, 2020 11:29 AM IST

A mysterious virus has killed two people and infected at least 62 in China, according to official statistics. The virus is also said to have reached Thailand and Japan, where three cases have been confirmed. Scientists and public health officials in China and neighbouring countries are making all possible efforts to stop a major outbreak of the virus. So, what is this mysterious virus and how it is being transmitted? Read on to learn more about this new deadly virus -

The virus first emerged in Wuhan, China last month. It can cause severe pneumonia, an infection that inflames the lungs' air sacs (alveoli). Officials in China and the World Health Organization (WHO) have concluded that the infection is caused by a type of coronavirus. Till now only six types of coronaviruses are known to infect people. With this new one in China, the number would become seven. The latest one in the family has been named novel coronavirus 2019 (nCoV-2019).

The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever, though a few patients have reported having difficulty in breathing. The mode of transmission is not clear yet. And there is little evidence of significant human-to-human transmission. However, some suspect that the transmission is from animal to human.

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Steps being taken up to control the outbreak

  • Chinese health authorities have issued an advisory for travellers visiting China to curb the virus outbreak.
  • Some of the people who fell ill were identified to be sellers from a local Chinese wholesale seafood market. The market is now shut down for cleaning and disinfection.
  • Tourists or travellers to Wuhan, China, are advised to avoid living or dead animals, animal markets, and contact with sick people.
  • Investigations are ongoing to find whether the virus can spread from human to human on a broad scale.
  • But laboratory tests have ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus, and other common infectious agents as the cause of the pneumonia cases in Wuhan.

World's first diagnostic test to detect the new Chinese virus

The good news here is - researchers from German Centre for Infection Research have developed the first diagnostic test to detect the novel Chinese coronavirus. The researchers say the new method can also detect suspected cases. The diagnostic test is now made available to public.

"This will also help scientists understand whether the virus is capable of spreading from human to human, this is an important step in our fight against this new virus," said study researcher Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute of Virology on Campus Charit Mitte in Germany.

Following its online publication by the WHO, the test protocol will now serve as a guideline for laboratories. An international consortium is currently conducting a joint evaluation study.

With inputs from IANS.

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