Health authorities in a central Chinese city on Saturday reported the country's first death from a new type of coronavirus, as the government braced for the Lunar New Year travel boom amid concerns over a possible outbreak similar to that of the SARS virus in the early 2000s. Seven are in severe condition, one died.
Scientists have speculated that a novel coronavirus might have caused the Wuhan outbreak as officials there ruled out other coronaviruses - including SARS and MERS-CoV - as well as influenza, avian influenza and adenovirus. No new case has been detected since January 3.
Since the end of 2019, Hong Kong public hospitals have reported 38 patients who presented with fever, respiratory infection or pneumonia symptoms after recent visits to Wuhan.
More than two-thirds of the suspected cases in Hong Kong or 46 patients have been discharged and the remainder are in stable condition.
A total of 739 close contacts, 419 of which are medical staff, have been placed under medical observation and no related cases were found, the commission said. The commission said he also suffered from abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease and had been a frequent customer at a food market on Wuhan's outskirts that has been linked to the majority of the cases. Meanwhile, Taiwan authorities said Wednesday that they were quarantining a patient who fell ill with flu symptoms on January 6, more than two weeks after the individual returned from a trip to Wuhan.
The outbreak triggered fears on social media that the nation might be experiencing a return of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus. More than 800 people, including 33 in Singapore, died from Sars in 2002 and 2003. More than 8,000 people were sickened and almost 800 died, but no cases have been reported since 2004. Some coronaviruses are spread between animals, while others are transmitted from person-to-person and others not.
The Wuhan health authority in its statement also urged the public to take more precautions against infectious diseases, and said it was pushing ahead with tests to diagnose the pathogen and as of Friday had completed nucleic acid tests.