Corona virus in China can also be transmitted from person to person. In addition, infections among medical personnel have been confirmed, a team from the Chinese health commission said on Monday, according to the Xinhua news agency. Human-to-human transmission has been demonstrated in two cases in Guangdong province, team leader Zhong Nanshan said. Two patients in Guangdong had contracted sick relatives without first visiting Wuhan themselves. In 2003, Zhong had worked to publicize the full extent of the Sars epidemic.
The World Health Organization ( WHO ) convened a crisis meeting because of the rapidly spreading disease. An emergency committee is due to deal with the disease in Geneva on Wednesday, the WHO announced on Monday. The experts should therefore advise whether an international health emergency is declared.
For experts, it is an important indicator whether doctors and nurses are affected by a new illness: if many of them become infected, this is a clear indication of easy transfer ability from person to person. In the beginning, it was assumed for the new Sars virus variant, which was probably jumped from wild animals to humans, that there was little or no transmission from person to person.
The number of confirmed infections in China skyrocketed to around 220. Another patient died. This means that three deaths are known, as reported by the health authority in the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan. The outbreak had started there. For the first time, infections with the corona virus have been detected in several other locations in both northern and southern China. There is also evidence of people in Thailand, Japan and South Korea who were previously in Wuhan. No cases brought in by travelers have been reported in Europe.
Nine people with Corona virus in critical condition
With the wave of travel to the Chinese New Year celebrating this coming Saturday, the risk of transmission of the Corona virus is growing. Hundreds of millions of Chinese are on the move during the largest annual migration. Asian neighbors and several airports in other countries worldwide have introduced fever controls on entry from Wuhan.
Italy also followed suit on Monday: suspected cases on board aircraft from Wuhan landing in Rome-Fiumicino would be checked in the future, the Ministry of Health said. Pilots should therefore report passengers with corresponding symptoms. These would then be immediately brought to the national institute for infectious diseases in Rome, it said.
China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping intervened in the health crisis for the first time on Monday and gave instructions to vigorously curb the spread of the disease. State television quoted that the safety of people and their physical health were “absolute priority”.
In addition to the city of Wuhan, which has the highest number of confirmed cases, patients in the southern province of Guangdong, Beijing in the north and Shanghai have been reported. Suspected cases were also reported in several other cities. Of the previously recorded patients in the 11 million metropolis of Wuhan, 35 were seriously ill, nine of them in critical condition.
Significantly more infected than previously known
According to virus researchers, analyzes of the genetic material showed that the pathogen is a Sars variant. Starting in China in 2002/2003, a Sars virus resulted in a worldwide pandemic with 8,000 infected people, and around 800 people died.
Experts from Imperial College London assume that the new disease is far more widespread than previously known. According to their projection, there could already be more than 1,700 infected people.
The first infections are associated with a now closed fish market in Wuhan, where wild animals were also sold. The Sars pathogen from 2002 to 2003 was most likely also jumped from a wild animal to humans, assumed source are sneak cats. The Chinese authorities have already hypothesized which animal species the new pathogen might have spread to humans, virus researchers recently said. “But this will only be officially announced when it is considered secure.”
Corona virus often cause harmless diseases such as colds – however, pathogens of dangerous respiratory diseases such as Sars and Mers are also included. Sars stands for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome”. At the beginning of the Sars pandemic in 2002/2003, the outbreak was covered up, which prevented a quick response and favored the spread.
If WHO declares an international health emergency, it recommends stricter measures to combat the disease. This may include border controls, the establishment of specialized treatment centers or possible vaccinations by medical professionals. WHO has not yet issued a travel warning for tourists. The American health agency CDC only advised travelers to Wuhan to avoid animal markets and contact with animals or with sick people.