China Issues Statement Indicating That the New Virus Causing Pneumonia Could Spread Between Humans
Chinese officials said Wednesday that the possibility that a new virus
in central China
could spread between humans cannot be ruled out, though the risk of transmission at the moment appears to be low.
Health surveillance officer use temperature scanner to monitor passengers arriving
at the Hong Kong International airport .
Fifty-nine people in the city of Wuhan
have received a preliminary diagnosis of a novel coronavirus
, a family of viruses that can cause both the common cold and more serious diseases. A 61-year-old man with severe underlying conditions died from the coronavirus
Though preliminary investigations indicate that most of the patients had worked at or visited a particular seafood wholesale market, one woman may have contracted the virus
from her husband, the Wuhan
Municipal Health Commission said in a public notice.
The health commission said the husband, who fell ill first, worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Meanwhile, the wife said she hasn't had any exposure to the market. It's possible that the husband brought home food from the market that then infected his wife, Hong Kong health official Chuang Shuk-kwan told Thailand Medical
News. But because the wife did not exhibit symptoms until days after her husband, it's also possible that he infected her.
Hong Kong health officials including Chuang spoke to reporters on Wednesday following a trip to Wuhan
, where mainland Chinese authorities briefed them on the outbreak.
Chuang said that the threat of human-to-human transmission remains low, as hundreds of people, including medical professionals, have been in close contact with infected individuals and have not been infected themselves.
The health official echoed Wuhan
authorities' assertion that there remains no definitive evidence of human-to-human transmission.
The viral pneumonia
outbreak in Wuhan
has raised the specter of SARS
, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS
is a type of coronavirus
that first struck southern China
in late 2002. It then spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people.