China Medical News: Beijing Releases Genome Of Emerged Virus As Official Numbers Of Individuals Infected With COVID-19 Swells To Almost 200
China Medical News
: Authorities In China have released genome data for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus found in a new outbreak in Beijing, which Chinese virologists claims share similarities to European strains, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases neared 200 on Friday. Readers should however be reminded that the coronavirus causing the global pandemic first originated from China.
Thousands of individuals in the Chinese capital are being tested for the contagion while neighborhoods have been locked down and schools closed as authorities seek to contain a cluster linked to the Xinfadi food market.
This morning, another 25 cases were confirmed in Beijing, taking the total number of infections since last week to 183.
The Chinese authorities shared the genome data of the latest outbreak with the World Health Organization and international scientific community.
Interestingly, initial findings suggest it "came from Europe", but is different from what is currently spreading there, claimed Dr Zhang Yong of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a report published by the Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog today, Dr Yong said, "It is older than the virus currently circulating in Europe.”
Dr Yong raised the possibility of the virus lurking in imported frozen food or in the wholesale markets itself, resulting in similarities to older strains.
The coronavirus had been detected on chopping boards used to handle imported salmon at the market.
However medical experts cautioned against making early conclusions on the Beijing cluster.
Dr Ben Cowling, a Professor at the University of Hong Kong's School of Public Health, told media, "it is possible that the virus now causing an outbreak in Beijing had traveled from Wuhan to Europe and now back to China."
However he said the first case has not yet been identified and it may be too late to find out how this outbreak started.
Dr Francois Balloux of University College London wrote on Twitter that based on the data shared there had been local transmission for some time before the outbreak was identified.
He stressed, "Their position in the tree does not allow to confidently assign a geographic origin to the lineage. They could have originated from essentially anywhere.”
The Xinfadi market supplies more than 70 percent of Beijing's fresh produce and has been temporarily closed due to the cluster.
Dr Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiology expert at the CDC, had previously said the virus found in Beijing was similar to European strains although he added this did not mean the virus had been directly imported.
Significantly, the resurgence came after China had largely brought the virus under control and eased restrictions on movement inside the country.
Local Chinese media said that there are now 293 people ill with COVID-19 in China, the highest number since early May.
Till recently most new cases had been impo
rted by nationals returning from abroad.
However this time round, China is not getting any sympathy or concerns from the International community with most countries having animosity towards it.
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