(Jan 9): An alarming pneumonia outbreak in central China may be due to a previously unidentified coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization.
Initial information about the outbreak in Wuhan suggested that the culprit may be a virus from the coronavirus family, such as the one that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. But Chinese authorities subsequently said that laboratory tests ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus and other common respiratory pathogens.
According to a statement from the WHO, a new virus may therefore be the cause of the outbreak. Other new coronaviruses have emerged in recent years, such as SARS in 2002.
The WHO said that more comprehensive information is needed to identify the pathogen. The virus doesn’t transmit readily between people, the WHO said, citing Chinese authorities.
Dozens of people have been hospitalized in Wuhan since the first patient developed symptoms Dec 12. Some patients worked at a seafood market where birds, snakes and rabbit organs were reportedly sold.