The number of cases of the Coronavirus continues to increase in China. In the meantime, 17 people are said to have died of the lung disease and the Chinese government has sealed off a metropolis of millions. Now researchers suspect that two animal species transmit the virus.
The Chinese government has practically cordoned off the metropolis of Wuhan, which is particularly hard hit by the new lung disease.
As the city administration announced, flights, trains, ferries and long-distance buses should be stopped from Thursday morning. Wuhan residents were asked not to leave the central Chinese city. Local traffic with subways and buses was also discontinued.
Around eleven million people live in Wuhan, where the new type of corona virus had probably broken out at an animal market.
Coronavirus in China: You could still travel to Wuhan – but have to be checked through
They were still able to travel to Wuhan – but have to be checked through
Credit: AFP / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU
The virus broke out in Wuhan for the first time in December. According to experts, it is transferable from person to person, spreads via the respiratory tract and may mutate.
Travelers wearing face masks gather at Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Face masks sold out and temperature checks at airports and train stations became the new norm as China strove Tuesday to control the outbreak of a new coronavirus that has reached four other countries and territories and threatens to spread further during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan)
LUNG DISEASE FROM ASIA
What you need to know about the Corona virus
According to official information, the number of deaths has continued to increase. In the province of Hubei, 17 deaths had been registered by Wednesday afternoon after nine, the state television reported, citing local authorities. The state-run newspaper “China Daily” gave 571 confirmed cases of illness in the entire People’s Republic after 473 previously. This includes 95 serious cases, all of which are located in the Hubei province with the metropolis of Wuhan. The virus has spread from the metropolis to other cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong.
Cases of the virus that triggers lung disease have also been detected abroad. Four people have been registered in Thailand, one in the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. A suspected case was examined in Mexico on Wednesday. The Robert Koch Institute currently assesses the risk to the population in Germany as low.
Health experts warned of particularly infectious patients who could spread the virus faster. There were also cases of so-called super spreaders in China during the Sars pandemic, which killed around 800 people in 2002/2003.
The global vaccine alliance Gavi meanwhile expected that the development of a vaccine against the new lung disease will take at least a year. The dangers of the corona virus are still difficult to assess, said Gavi managing director and epidemiologist Seth Berkley of the German press agency in Berlin. “The good news is that researchers have already sequenced and released the virus genome. This has made it possible for several organizations around the world to start working on a vaccine, ”he said.
Berlin virus researchers: It is a Sars virus variant
There were an unusually large number of people wearing protective masks in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday. The masks were already sold out in some shops. Families discussed whether planned trips should be canceled over the holidays.
According to Christian Drosten, a virus researcher from Berlin, analyzes of the genome of the new diseases have shown that it is a Sars virus variant. “It is the same type of virus, only in a different variant,” said the director of the Institute of Virology at the Charité in Berlin. The main differences are in the proteins with which the virus docks onto human cells. Sars viruses belong to the corona viruses, which often cause harmless diseases such as colds. However, pathogens of dangerous respiratory diseases such as Mers are also included.
Fear of lung disease in China: In Beijing, children pose for a photo at an exhibition on the upcoming New Year’s Day with face mask
In Beijing, children pose for a photo at an exhibition on the upcoming New Year’s Day with face mask
Source: dpa / Mark Schiefelbein
It is believed that the source of the novel corona virus
The origin of the novel corona virus, which has triggered an epidemic in China to date with 17 deaths, may have been found: Chinese researchers have identified two animal species from which the pathogen could have spread to humans. Both are snakes – the Chinese cobra and the so-called WHO advises on emergency
Beijing seals off the city of millions because of corona virus
The multi-banded krait in particular is considered extremely toxic, its bite can be fatal to humans. The also poisonous Chinese cobra is one of the most widespread venomous snakes in China. Both species are native to southeast China.
Using virus samples taken from infected patients, Chinese researchers have determined the genetic code of the pathogen, which is a previously unknown type of virus from the coronavirus family. The World Health Organization (WHO) gave the virus the preliminary name 2019-nCoV. It is closely related to the Sars and Mers viruses, which have triggered two pandemics in the past 17 years, each with hundreds of deaths.
For their study published in the Journal of Medical Virology, researchers from Wei Ji of the University of Beijing compared the genome of a total of five samples of 2019-nCoV with 217 similar viruses that had been taken from a large number of animal species. On the one hand, the genetic analyzes showed that the new virus is similar to viruses already found in bats. However, from a genetic point of view, ultimately only snakes could be considered as the hosts from which the pathogen jumped onto humans.
Mixture of bat and snake viruses?
2019-nCoV could also be a mixture of bat and snake viruses, health researcher Peter Rabinowitz from the University of Washington in Seattle conjectures “New Scientist”. This could happen if species of these animals were kept close to one another, as could be the case in trading markets. In a certain sense, humans would have contributed to the creation of the virus.
According to the researchers around Wei Ji, the genetic analyzes coincide with the findings on the outbreak of the virus epidemic: a fish and poultry market in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan. Because in addition to other farm animals, wild animals such as snakes and bats would also be offered for sale. The researchers suspect that the virus was transmitted when people came into direct contact with infected snakes.
The disease first broke out in Wuhan in late December. The retail market was closed in early January. In the meantime, the Chinese government has sealed off practically all of Wuhan. However, the virus has now spread to large parts of China and also across national borders. The disease has already been proven in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA.
As more and more people with flu symptoms are tested for the new virus, the number of confirmed cases continues to increase. To date, the virus has been detected in 571 people, the Chinese health agency reported. Accordingly, there are 95 serious cases, all of which are located in the Hubei province with the metropolis of Wuhan.