Overall, according to the health authority of the metropolis of Wuhan, six deaths have been confirmed by the new corona virus. In addition, 77 other infections were reported, according to the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. There are now 291 confirmed cases in China since the outbreak began in December. On Tuesday, Taiwan also reported the illness of a Taiwanese woman about 50 years old.
Evidence from Thailand, Japan and South Korea had previously been published. People who were previously in China were always affected. No case has occurred in Europe so far. The first victim was a 61-year-old who, according to Chinese authorities, also suffered from cancer and chronic liver disease. The second victim was a 69-year-old with heart disease. There is no information on the third casualty. The fourth victim is an 89-year-old who is said to have had diabetes and heart disease. No details were initially available on the two most recently confirmed deaths.
Meanwhile, a study by Hong Kong University mentioned 1,343 infections in Wuhan. In addition, China‘s National Health Commission previously said 900 people were under surveillance for a possible corona virus infection.
According to current knowledge, the virus causes fever and symptoms of pneumonia, explained the Berlin virus researcher Christian Drosten. “The upper respiratory tract is hardly affected, for example there is no runny nose.” A pathogen gets from lung to lung more difficult than with the droplets when sneezing. There is no protective vaccination or special therapy to treat the infection, only the symptoms can be alleviated with medication.
According to Drosten, analyzes of the genetic material 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 Charite in Berlin. The main differences are in the proteins with which the virus docks onto human cells.
The virologist estimates that a previously unknown virus, like the current one, causes outbreaks in humans about every ten years. Rabies, HIV, MERS, Ebola: Most human infectious diseases come from the animal kingdom. Mammals in particular carry pathogens that can spread to humans. Bats and fruit bats are among the sources of new corona viruses. Farm animals have also transmitted corona viruses to humans in the past. If a pathogen spontaneously changes hosts, the risk of a dangerous epidemic is often greater than that of long-circulating ones because humans have no antibodies against the new pathogen.
Asian neighbors and several airports in other countries worldwide have now introduced fever controls on entry from Wuhan. The Italian Ministry of Health has announced plans to investigate suspected cases of aircraft from Wuhan landing in Rome. 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.
Travelers are also checked in Australia. There are three direct flights a week from Wuhan to Sydney, each flight should be received by a team of experts. A suspected case was also investigated in Brisbane: there, a man who recently visited his family in Wuhan and showed symptoms is screened in his home. Tests should clarify whether he is infected with the new virus.