A mysterious disease broke out in China’s central city of Wuhan which health experts believe is caused by a new born virus, according to local media.
The first case was diagnosed on Dec. 12, said the daily South China Morning Post on Thursday.
The Wuhan Municipality Health Commission revealed last week that at least 59 persons were affected by viral pneumonia seven of whom were critical.
But, based on the current findings of the commission, there is no evidence for human-to-human transmission of the disease.
“A total of 59 patients with unexplained diagnosis of viral pneumonia were reported in our city, including 7 critically ill patients, and the remaining patients’ overall vital signs were stable,” the Wuhan Municipality said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says Chinese authorities believe a new coronavirus from the family that produced SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) may be the cause of the mysterious pneumonia cases in the city, the Scientific American magazine reported.
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that range from the common cold to SARS. Some cause less-severe disease, some more severe. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others don’t,” the WHO said.
The virus “can cause severe illness in some patients and it does not transmit readily between people,” it added.
According to daily South China Morning Post, WHO’s China representative Dr. Gauden Galea called for more “comprehensive information to understand what triggered the outbreak and how to manage it in the coming weeks”.
An experts group led by Xu Jianguo, the director of National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, is investigating the cause of the disease.
“The pathogen of these unexplained cases of viral pneumonia was initially identified as a new type of coronavirus,” Xu said.
He added that investigations found “whole genome sequence” and 15 affected persons had tested positive for it, which showed “typical coronavirus morphology.”
Meanwhile, South Korea on Friday sought information from China on the new virus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported country’s first suspected case that has caused alarm in China for weeks, Yonhap news reported.