On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organisation received information regarding several cases of pneumonia of an unknown cause was detected in Wuhan City, China.
While the situation was initially a cause of concern, it has now escalated into a matter of global concern. The follows China’s health ministry confirming human-to-human transmission of mysterious SARS-like virus which has spread across the country.
As of Monday, January 20, over there have been over 400 reported cases of the new coronavirus strain.
With at least nine people already dead from the disease, there is a great cause alarm surrounding the coronavirus, due to its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong between 2002 and 2003.
Initially, it was suspected that a seafood market was the centre of the outbreak in Wuhan. However, after investigations conducted by authorities, health officials have reported some patients had no history of contact with the facility.
In a statement on Twitter on Monday, January 20, WHO claimed an animal source seems like the most likely primary source, with limited human-to-human transmission taking place between close contacts.
With confirmed cases in Beijing, Shangai and Wuhan City in China, there are also confirmed cases in Japan, Thailand, South Korea and one confirmed case from the United States. The cases in the US, Japan, Thailand and South Korea involve people from Wuhan City or people who have visited there.
WHO is currently not recommending restrictions on travel or trade. However, the organisation is providing guidance to countries preparing for any form of outbreak.
As Chinese families around the globe prepare for the upcoming Chinese New Year, many of which will be travelling to their hometowns for the occasion, countries are urged to avoid panic.