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Mysterious viral pneumonia infects dozens in central China, bird flu and SARS ruled out

Published on 06/01/20 at 10:46am

A total of 59 cases of viral pneumonia have been reported in the city of Wuhan, with seven people in critical condition.

In a statement posted on its website, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said 163 people who had contact with those infected had been placed under medical observation. It said that a number of those infected worked at a seafood market in the city.

The local government have ruled out an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 700 people around the world after originating in China.

As well as mainland China, Singapore and Hong Kong have set up checks for travellers arriving from Wuhan. Hong Kong has admitted 16 travellers with pneumonia-like symptoms to hospital with Singapore having one suspicious case.

A spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “There are many potential causes of viral pneumonia, many of which are more common than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. WHO is closely monitoring this event and will share more details as we have them.”

SARS is caused by a member of the coronavirus family of viruses. It is believed the 2003 epidemic started when the virus spread from small mammals in China.

There are no travel or trade restrictions on China and Wuhan at this time.

Conor Kavanagh

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