China reports first death from Wuhan pneumonia, another 7 cases isolated in Hong Kong

Local | 11 Jan 2020 4:11 pm

China's health commission have announced today the first death from Wuhan pneumonia virus, of which medical experts said was 80 percent similar to the deadly SARS. Another 7 patients in Hong Kong have been isolated after they fell ill and reported that they had visited Wuhan in the previous 14 days.

As of Friday, 41 patients have been diagnosed with the previously unknown pneumonia virus, which was found to be a new type of coronavirus, according to the Chinese state media. Two of them have been discharged from hospital, while 7 are in serious condition. The remaining patients are in stable condition. A total of 739 people who had close contact with the patients have been cleared.

The Chinese health comission said the male patient who died on was hospitalized due to respiratory failure and severe pneumonia before being tested positive with the new novel coronavirus. The 61-year-old also suffered from other chronic illness, he was a frequent visitor to Wuhan's wet markets, which was pinpointed as the center of the outbreak.

The Hospital Authority said the 7 newly hospitalized patients aged between 3 to 50, they had not visited wet markets in the center city of the Hubei province.

Sixty-one people who had visited Wuhan recently were referred for isolation after showing symptoms related to pneumonia. Fourty-six of them had been discharged, while the remaining patients were still hospitalized and in stable condition.

Health and Food Secretary Sophia Chan Siu-chee said a meeting will be called to discuss the latest development with relevant experts and officials.

Speaking on a radio programme this morning, Chan said there are no cases found to be related to the pneumonia virus in Hong Kong.

She cited the National Heath Commission that no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission had been found, nor medical staff had been infected. She added that after the market's closure on January 1, no new cases had been detected since January 3.

Meanwhile, infectious diseases experts said the genetic makeup of the coroavirus is similar to the SARS virus.

Professor Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong said the genetic sequence of the new type of virus was “80 percent” similar to the severe acute syndrome (SARS) virus which were found in bats, civets and human.

Yuen said the tests currently used by local health authorities are effective in screening suspected patients, and all Wuhan visitors who showed signs of fever and pneumonia symptoms had been tested negative with the virus.

But he noted that current information from Chinese authorities were insufficient and thus was hard to speculate if the new virus would cause an epidemic like the SARS outbreak in 2003, which infected more than 1,700 people and killed almost 300.

He said the city must stay alert as the new year holiday is approaching.

“The genetic sequence of the virus could change, and that would completely change its toxicity and infectiousness,” he said.

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