The new coronavirus spreads to Japan, Thailand; causes another death in China
While the number of deaths as a result of coronavirus is low and the disease seems to be contained, there have been some concerning revelations.
Coronavirus from central China's Wuhan city has claimed its second victim: a 69-year-old man in China, who was admitted to hospital with pneumonia, had abnormal kidney function and severe damage to multiple organs and died on 15 January.
Separately, Japan health officials reported a case of the virus in their country as well: a 30-year-old resident of Tokyo who had just returned from a trip to Wuhan presented with the symptoms of coronavirus infection. Local health officials also reported that the case has been resolved: according to them, the patient was given treatment and was no longer found to have the virus. The patient has been discharged from the hospital.
Thailand, which reported its first case of coronavirus infection on 13 January, has also reported another case: a traveller returning from a trip to China. According to local health workers, this patient is too out of danger but still quarantined as further testing will reveal if the virus is out of their system.
While the number of deaths as a result of this so-called novel coronavirus is low and the disease seems to be contained, there have been some concerning revelations. For example, the Japanese traveller had not visited the Wuhan fish market which has been identified as the source of infection. Instead, they likely contracted the disease from a human carrier.
The market was closed on 1 January and disinfected. The fact that new cases are still emerging suggests that human-to-human transmission could be possible.
Further, the Chinese New Year is at the end of this month, which means it is a busy travel period: efforts will need to be bolstered to ensure that infection doesn’t spread and breach the border. The Chinese response has been competent so far, but this coincidence may derail the hard work.
A new test
Researchers from the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have designed a new laboratory assay that can detect the new coronavirus . The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the assay as a diagnostic tool and it is now publicly available.
This means that the virus can be detected quickly and cheaply. Given that the virus has the potential to become a global threat, the ability to diagnose it timely can give doctors the edge when it comes to treatment. Delays in providing care can cause the infection to spiral out of control and lead to more serious complications.
Previously, the WHO had said that it is safe to travel to China as long as certain basic precautions are taken. Maintaining good personal hygiene is key and it is a good idea to keep a distance from people displaying signs of the common cold.
For more information, read our article on Infections: Symptoms and Causes.
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