The cause behind the mysterious outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan may have been identified finally. According to a report by China Central Television (CCTV), scientists working on identifying the pathogen behind the disease have stumbled upon a new Coronavirus, a type that has never been before. Thereby, eliminating the much-discussed possibility: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
A Coronavirus belongs to a group of viruses that can cause simple infections such as common cold, or infection of the sinus, and throat, among others. Most of them are considered not to be very lethal. However, some coronavirus can cause life-threatening diseases such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe acute respiratory syndrome ( SARS ). According to the WHO, as of September 2019, there have been 2468 confirmed cases across the world, with 851 related deaths. The SARS outbreak in 2003 claimed 774 lives and infected 8,098 worldwide.
The report by CCTV said, "The new coronavirus that caused this epidemic situation is different from previously discovered human coronaviruses, and further understanding of the virus requires more scientific research."
It was found in around 15 patients from Wuhan City, who were diagnosed with the lung infection. The report also stated that the scientists have obtained the genome sequence of the virus, and under an electron microscope, appeared to be a typical coronavirus.
As reported by CNBC, WHO in a statement said, "The initial information about the cases of pneumonia in Wuhan...pointed to a coronavirus as a possible pathogen causing this cluster." It also said that the Chinese scientists have ruled out SARS and MERS coronavirus, along with a few other possible causes.
Outbreak in Wuhan
Last month, Wuhan Municipal Health and Health Committee said in a statement that as of December 31, 2019, there have been 27 confirmed cases of pneumonia in the city. Of the 27 cases, seven were said to be in critical condition. While two patients were recovering and are expected to be released soon. However, as of 5 January 2019, there have been 59 reported cases of the mystery illness. This is a sharp rise from the 44 reported cases as it was last week.
(With agency inputs)