Viral Pneumonia Outbreak Escalates in China as Disease Spreads to France and Australia

January 25, 2020 Updated: January 27, 2020
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The Novel Coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has now spread to Europe and Australia.

The disease, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has reached other continents, with three confirmed cases in France and four in Australia.

In Southeast Asia, Nepal has also reported its first confirmed case, while both Thailand and Hong Kong just confirmed their fifth case, and Malaysia and Japan reported their third. Vietnam has two confirmed cases.

Japanese media reported that the third confirmed case involved a Chinese woman from Wuhan who arrived in Japan on Jan. 18.

In China, two doctors have died in connection with the viral outbreak. In Wuhan, Liang Wudong, 62, died from the virus at a local hospital, according to China’s state-run media.

Jiang Jijun, an infectious disease doctor at Taizhou People’s Hospital, which is located in the coastal province of Jiangsu, died suddenly at the hospital on Jan. 24, according to the Chinese news portal Sina. His death was attributed to the long hours he was working since the start of the outbreak.

On Jan. 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement that “human-to-human transmission has been confirmed largely in Wuhan city, but also some other places in China and internationally.”

A study published by The Lancet on Jan. 24 analyzed clinical data from seven people in a family who had been admitted to the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, which is located in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Among the seven, six tested positive for the coronavirus, but only five of these six had been to Wuhan.

“Our study showed that person-to-person transmission in family homes or hospital, and intercity spread of this Novel Coronavirus are possible,” the study concluded.

The study also found that the virus had an incubation period of three to six days in humans, which was similar to the SARS coronavirus, which was responsible for the 2003 outbreak that caused over 770 deaths worldwide.

On Jan. 25, China’s National Health Commission announced that it had dispatched six medical teams comprising 1,230 people to Wuhan, with six additional teams standing by, according to China’s state-run media Xinhua.

Xinhua also reported that three medical teams each from Shanghai, Guangdong, and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had arrived in Wuhan.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam held a press conference on Jan. 25 to announce a set of measures to stem the virtual outbreak.

Lam raised the response level to “Emergency Response Level,” the highest of a three-tier system in Hong Kong.

She also postponed the return days for students in kindergartens, primary, secondary, and special schools, who are currently off from the Chinese New Year holiday, until Feb. 17.

Lam also canceled several large-sized outdoor activities, including the Hong Kong Marathon which was originally scheduled to be held on Feb. 9.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer