Mysterious viral pneumonia in Wuhan, China is not the flu-like virus SARS, said state health commission

Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on Sunday (5 Jan) that the outbreak of mysterious pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China is not the flu-like virus SARS, MERS, influenza, bird flu or adenovirus.

The cause of infections is currently under investigations, added Wuhan’s health commission.

In Wuhan city, as of 5 Jan, 59 cases of unknown viral pneumonia have been reported, of which seven are in critical condition while the rest are in stable condition and being treated in quarantine. No deaths have been reported.

The number of reported cases had increased, up from 44 cases on Friday (3 Jan).

According to Wuhan’s health commission, the first case was reported on 12 Dec 2019, with a total of 163 people – who had been in close contact with those affected – being put under medical observation as the search for more close contacts remains in progress.

Some of the infected patients were the stall operators in Huanan Seafood Market, a local seafood wholesale market in Wuhan city, the statement read.

World Health Organization (WHO) also stated that the pneumonia cases which connected to a wholesale fish and live animal market could indicate an exposure link to animals.

“Based on the preliminary information from the Chinese investigation team, no evidence of significant human-to-human transmission and no health care worker infections have been reported,” said WHO on 5 Jan.

It was also reported that Huanan Seafood Market, which is believed to be the source of outbreak, was closed on Wednesday (1 Jan) for environmental sanitation and disinfection.

The outbreak had caused alerts throughout Asia including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau as local governments imposed precautionary measures such as temperature checking on passengers at the airport.

In Hong Kong, six more patients had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms, bringing the total number of suspected case to 21 – seven of whom have already been discharged, according to South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that the suspected case, involving a 3-year-old girl from China, is not linked to the pneumonia cluster in Wuhan.

The clinical signs and symptoms of the unknown pneumonia are mainly fever, with a few patients having difficulty in breathing, and chest radiographs showing invasive lesions of both lungs, WHO noted.

Hence, WHO advised all travellers who show signs of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness – either during or after travel – to seek medical attention and share travel history with their healthcare provider.

WHO is closely monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the national authorities in China.

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