SARS-like virus responsible for mysterious pneumonia outbreak in China

UNTV News   •   January 9, 2020   •   235

BEIJING, CHINA : Passengers wearing face masks as a precaution against the deadly SARS virus check in at Beijing’s Capital Airport for one of the few remaining daily Beijing to Hong Kong flights on Air China, Monday 21 April 2003. After months of denying the gravity of the problem, China’s government has suddenly made it a national priority to deal with the killer illness which originated in the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong. EPA PHOTO EPA / STR

Beijing – A new type of hitherto-unknown coronavirus has been the cause of a mysterious outbreak of viral pneumonia in central China, that has so far affected at least 59 people – with seven of them in serious condition – according to reports by the Chinese state broadcaster aired on Thursday.

The head of the group of experts tasked with detecting the cause of the disease, Xu Jianguo, explained in an interview on CCTV that the investigation of this newfound virus could take weeks, and that scientists were only able to detect it on Tuesday.

Xu said that until now only six types of coronavirus were known: four of them cause only mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, while the other two cause two serious illnesses – severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Alarm bells went off in China over fears of a fresh outbreak of SARS, a disease that had spread across the country in 2003 and caused hundreds of deaths, although the authorities this time ruled out that it was SARS or even MERS.

According to the World Health Organization, between 14 and 15 per cent of SARS cases result in death, while in the case of MERS, the figure is 35 percent.

According to the latest update on the outbreak by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission outbreak, published on Sunday night, a total of 59 patients diagnosed with having been infected with viral pneumonia – of which seven were in serious condition – had been quarantined, and another 163 people who had been in contact with those affected were being monitored.

The first case was recorded on Dec. 12 and the most recent one on Dec. 29.

The commission said that they had so far found no clear evidence that the disease has been transmitted between humans.

CCTV said on Thursday that eight people who were suffering from the disease have recovered and been discharged.

There are indications that the disease could have originated from a fish and seafood market in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and home to about 11 million people.

A woman in South Korea who had visited Wuhan in December was quarantined and receiving treatment at a hospital in Dongtan – located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the east of Seoul – after exhibiting some of the symptoms associated with the mysterious pneumonia.

The outbreak has caused widespread panic in China; especially in Hong Kong, where virtually all pedestrians, commuters, workers and students have been wearing surgery masks over the past few days. EFE-EPA

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DOH: 11 patients under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that 11 patients are under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 11 patients under investigation have a history of travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

Based on the DOH, two of the 11 patients are in Metro Manila, one in MIMAROPA, three in Western Visayas, one in Eastern Visayas, three in Central Visayas and one in Northern Mindanao.

Duque said all the patients under investigation are being closely monitored. He also reiterated that there are still zero confirmed nCoV cases in the Philippines.

“There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Just because we flashed the areas where the PUIs come from, it doesn’t mean those areas are infected with the novel coronavirus, because there’s none. We keep harping the fact that there is none—still zero as of today,” he said.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau officer-in-charge Chito Avelino said the five-year-old patient in Cebu has already been discharged, while the others are already in the process of being released.

The DOH also reminds the public to practice good hygiene to prevent the risk of infection from any virus.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Hundreds of health workers deployed to Wuhan City as death toll from nCoV rises to 80

Marje Pelayo   •   January 27, 2020

CHINA – The National Health Commission (NHC) on Monday (January 27) confirmed the rise in number of deaths related to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei province in Central China.

State-run China Global Television Network (CGTN) cited reports from NHC which stated that the death toll from nCoV has climbed to 80 and the number of confirmed cases to a total of 2,744 persons across the country.

According to the NHC, 461 of those infected are in serious condition, while 51 others have been discharged.

The NHC confirmed that the first batch of medical staff already entered Wuhan City.

As of Monday, a total of 956 medical personnel from different municipalities and provinces were deployed to ground zero in Wuhan City.

Among them were 128 medical staff from the Southern province of Guangzhou and 137 health workers from the northern province of Shanxi.

All were given prior training on how to properly wear protective gear and were oriented on the conditions of residents in the city.

Testing kits have been distributed to disease control centers across China.

Likewise, the Chinese government deployed seven teams of supervisors to key areas in the country to facilitate the situations in relation to the novel coronavirus.

Cebu Pacific: Flights en route to China, HK, Macau can rebook, refund tickets

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

Cebu Pacific announced passengers with flights between China, Hong Kong and Macau booked on or before January 24, 2020 and travelling until February 29 may rebook their flights for free or refund their tickets in full.

In their Facebook post, Cebu Pacific said passengers can avail the following options:

● Rebook flights (new flight date within 30 days of original travel date);
● Refund tickets in full;
● Store the value of the ticket in a Travel Fund for future use

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