New China coronavirus can spread between humans

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A new Corona virus that has killed at least three peopleĀ and sickened more than 200 in China, can be transmitted between humans, as per Chinese government, fueling fears about the possibility of a deadly epidemic as millions prepare to travel for theĀ Lunar New Year holiday.

Zhong Nanshan, from Chinas National Health Commission confirmed that at least two cases had been spread. Zhong, who helped discover the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS) in 2003, said the infectiousness of this virus was not as strong as SARS. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia in 2002 and 2003.

The outbreak has spread to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzen, hundreds of miles from Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced last month. Thailand has also reported two cases, while Japan and South Korea reported one each, taking the global total to 222.

There is only a 1 in 574 chance that a person infected in Wuhan would travel overseas before they sought medical care. This implies there might have been over 1,700 cases in Wuhan so far.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced three US airports — in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles — will start screening passengers arriving from Wuhan to check for signs of the new virus, following similar measures taken by governments in Asia. [Excerpts from CNN]

Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past National President IMA