BEIJING: According to local sources, the total number of people affected with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related coronavirus rose to 218 in Beijing and Shanghai. The first cases were diagnosed earlier this week, while more than a dozen more emerged in southern Guangdong province and 136 new ones were found over the weekend in Wuhan, as per reports by CCTV (China Central Television). The local health commission also confirmed the death of third person in Wuhan.
A SARS like virus that has spread across China and reached three other Asian nations was found to be contagious between humans, confirmed by Government official. This fuelled fears of a major outbreak as millions travel for the Lunar New Year holiday.
The new coronavirus strain, first discovered in the central city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to SARS. Scientists have scrambled to determine the mode of transmission, with a seafood market in Wuhan believed to be the center of the outbreak.
Fourteen medical personnel helping with coronavirus patients have also been infected, though more than 95 of the total cases were related to Wuhan.
The World Health Organization said earlier that an animal source seemed to be “the most likely primary source” with “some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts”.
Wuhan has 11 million inhabitants and serves as a major transport hub, including during the annual Lunar New Year holiday which begins later this week and sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel across the country to visit family.
Weighing in on the matter for the first time, President Xi Jinping said that safeguarding people’s lives should be given “top priority” and that the spread of the epidemic “should be resolutely contained”, according to CCTV.
Xi said it was necessary to “release information on the epidemic in a timely manner and deepen international cooperation,” and ensure people have a “stable and peaceful Spring Festival”, the broadcaster said.
Five cases were reported in Beijing while South Korea also reported its first case, a woman who flew in from Wuhan. Thailand and Japan have previously confirmed a total of three cases, all of whom had visited the Chinese city.
There are also six suspected cases in Shanghai and four provinces and regions in the east, south and southwest of the country.
-Courtesy by Dawn