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New Virus in SARS Family May Be Cause of China’s Pneumonia Outbreak

By Matthew Walsh / Jan 09, 2020 12:35 PM / Society & Culture

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The cause of a mysterious lung disease that since December has afflicted more than 50 people in the central Chinese city of Wuhan seems to be a virus in the same family as those that caused the deadly SARS and MERS outbreaks, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported Thursday, citing official preliminary test results.

The report comes after the World Health Organization said Wednesday that Chinese authorities suspected the spate of pneumonia cases could be due to an emerging type of coronavirus — a family of viruses that cause a number of respiratory ailments of varying severity — but that more information was required before the cause could be confirmed.

The pneumonia outbreak, which began in Wuhan last month and had infected 59 people as of Sunday morning, had triggered fears of an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) akin to the one that killed hundreds of people in China in 2002 and 2003. Municipal health authorities investigating the current outbreak have since ruled out SARS and a number of other deadly respiratory diseases like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and bird flu.

No deaths due to the emerging form of pneumonia have so far been reported. As of Sunday, seven patients were in a serious condition and the rest were stable, the municipal health commission said. Eight people were discharged from hospital yesterday after displaying no fever or other pneumonia symptoms for several days, the CCTV report said, citing the commission.

Read the full report on Caixin Global later today.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Outbreak of Mysterious Lung Disease Sparks SARS Rumors


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