Chinese state media on Saturday reported the first known death from a new virus that has infected dozens of people in China and set off worries across Asia.
Forty-one people have been found to have the new virus, a coronavirus, and seven patients are still in severe condition, the health commission said, according to the Xinhua report. Two patients have been discharged, it said.
The illness appeared just weeks before the Spring Festival, the country’s biggest holiday, when tens of millions of people travel. The authorities urged the public to be on alert for pneumonia-like symptoms like fever, body aches and breathing difficulties.
There is no evidence that the virus can be spread between humans, according to the commission. The initial cases were linked to workers at a market that sold live fish, birds and other animals. More than 700 people who had close contact with patients, including 419 medical workers, have been put under observation.
SARS originated in China and killed more than 800 people worldwide in 2002 and 2003. At the time, the Chinese government tried to cover up the problem, which is exacerbating fear now about a new illness.
While there has not yet been person-to-person spread demonstrated, surveillance will be tested when up to 400 million Chinese travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year. Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea preemptively screened and isolated travelers from Wuhan and have found no spread. Symptomatic patients were found to have other viral infections.
1. China Reports First Death From New Virus NY Times
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3. Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak Shows the Importance of Sound Science, Sleuthing, and Cooperation Forbes