Coronavirus outbreak: The virus spread among people in Germany
The death toll in the coronavirus outbreak in China has now passed 100. Almost 1,300 new cases have been found in the last 24 hours, and one person in Germany is confirmed to have been infected by another person. "The virus spreads a little faster than we expected," says virologist Andy Pekosz
A coronavirus is a viral group that can cause common colds and pneumonia, among other things. There are a large number of coronaviruses, and as far as you know, at least seven of them can infect people. The lung disease that has erupted in China is caused by the 2019-ncov coronavirus. Chinese authorities have confirmed that it can be transmitted from person to person. Other known and severe respiratory diseases caused by various types of coronavirus are sars and mers.
SARS (severe acute respiratory illness) led to an epidemic in 2003–2004 that caused around 8,000 cases of the disease, of which over 750 died. The infection first occurred in China but spread to several countries via travelers. Probably the infection came from bats that infected humans via other animal species.
MERS (respiratory disease from the Middle East) was discovered in 2012 on the Arabian Peninsula. 80 percent of cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia. The disease causes severe pneumonia and can cause complications such as kidney failure. Camels are considered to be the likely source of infection. Mers are considered deadly but less contagious than sars. Mortality is set at 35 percent.
The virus outbreak in China continues. In total, at least about 4,500 people have been infected. The number of deaths has risen to 107, according to Chinese authorities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing during the day. They have discussed how people in the virus-affected areas can be best protected from infection as well as possible alternatives to evacuations, says a spokesman for WHO, according to Reuters.
The spread of the virus is faster than scientists have anticipated, according to Andy Pekosz, professor of microbiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA.
– It makes it very difficult to limit, he tells TT.
Most deaths have occurred in the province of Hubei, and the victims are consistently elderly or people who have already been ill. On Monday, it was confirmed that a 50-year-old Beijing man died in the infection – the first death to be registered in China’s capital.
At the same time, Germany has received its first confirmed case of the coronavirus. And it also turns out to be the spread of infection from person to person, media reports in Bavaria say. A Chinese employee at a car-sharing company visited the headquarters in Germany last week, then traveled home but now turns out to have infected a German colleague.
It is, as far as is known, the first case of such transmission in Europe.
Information from a possible similar case also comes from Japan. It concerns a person who has been infected without having visited China in the near future, but who recently, on two occasions, drove a bus with two groups of tourists from Chinese Wuhan, where the virus outbreak began.
The other five confirmed cases in Japan concern people who themselves visited Wuhan.
In Thailand, six new cases are reported to have been detected in people who arrived from China, which means that there are now a total of 14 confirmed cases in the country. The Thai Infection Protection Authority is now to start monitoring all travelers from China.
Beijing has also issued a call to the country’s residents to postpone scheduled trips abroad to reduce the risk of increased proliferation. Chinese nationals made nearly 150 million trips abroad in 2018, New China State News Agency reported last year.
– The important thing is that the cases identified outside China have all succeeded in isolation, which means that we probably have not seen the spread from person to person outside the mainland. This is something we are very positive about. This means that the efforts to identify and isolate individuals leaving China have been quite successful. If you see the spread outside China, there is a much higher risk for individuals in other countries, says Andy Pekosz.
China has also announced that the start of the semester for schools and universities will be postponed. Students and students are currently on leave over the Chinese New Year. The Ministry of Education has not set a new date for when the semester will start.
Data from Chinese researchers say that the virus can be infected even before symptoms occur. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not been able to confirm this in a recent report, according to the AFP news agency.
According to Pekosz, that question can be decisive as to whether it is possible to stop the spread.
– If it is correct, it will be extremely difficult to limit the epidemic. It is a matter of trying to find people with symptoms, and introducing quarantine and restricting air travel for them. But it is an entirely different thing if people who do not show symptoms can also spread the virus.
Would it be surprising if that is true?
– With similar viruses, such as sars and mers, the spread is much more linked to the patient showing symptoms. So it would be a surprise if this virus could spread before symptoms occur, he says.
Even the seasonal flu infects many and leads to death. What makes this outbreak worse?
– Seasonal flu causes a lot of illness in the population. But since we see it on an annual basis, a certain part of the population always has immunity to the disease. In this situation, no one in the world probably has any immunity. The number of cases in a single country can be huge, as we are all receptive.
Andy Pekosz says researchers are now focusing on finding out more about the spread of the virus. Companies have now also begun to try to develop vaccines against the coronavirus, and see which drugs can bite it.
– I expect we will go ahead with tests on people pretty soon