UPDATE (January 22, 2020 2.42pm CST): The current death toll has reached nine, with more than 400 cases confirmed, according to an update by South China Morning Post. New cases have been reported, with two in Tianjin and the first in the US. All three had recently traveled to Wuhan and began exhibiting symptoms such as fever and coughing upon their return. They were immediately hospitalized and put into isolation.
It’s been confirmed by the Chinese health ministry that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted between humans, with health experts advising people not to visit or leave the city of Wuhan, if possible.
Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak, confirmed human-to-human infection at a press conference on Monday afternoon, which many were already speculating prior to the announcement. He noted that some medical staff in Hubei’s capital city have been infected, while the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a Weibo post on Tuesday that 15 medical personnel are confirmed to have been infected by the virus, with one patient critically ill.
Zhong is the expert who discovered the SARS coronavirus, which killed nearly 650 people on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong between November 2002 and July 2003, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Another expert, named Zeng Guang, also spoke at the press conference and said that they hope travelers can avoid going to Wuhan if possible. Zeng additionally stated that Wuhan residents who don’t need to leave the city should stay in town, as reported by CCTV. It is important to note that the statements by the team are not official government orders, but rather advice from experts.
The team of experts said that the outbreak is still in its early stages.
On Tuesday morning, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission confirmed the fourth death related to the virus since the outbreak at the end of 2019. The victim, an 89-year-old man surnamed Chen, suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease, among other ailments. Chen entered the hospital on January 18 after having severe difficulty breathing, and died the following night.
As of January 21, 291 cases have been confirmed in China, as well as two cases in Thailand and one in both Japan and South Korea, according to China Daily. Guangdong province has reported 14 cases, Beijing has eight and Shanghai has four.
On Wednesday, China will attend an emergency committee meeting organized by the WHO to share info about the pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus.
For a list of tips on reducing your risk of catching the disease, click here.
[Cover image: screengrab via Weibo]