Asia Minute: Mystery Virus Hits Central Chinese City

Jan 7, 2020

There is a new virus that has surfaced in a large city in central China. While doctors and public health officials are investigating, concerns have already spread to several other Asian countries.

Medical authorities in the city of Wuhan are scrambling to find out more about a mysterious virus that has struck dozens of residents. At least 59 people have come down with what doctors are calling a “pneumonia of unknown cause” — and the number of infections has been climbing over the past several weeks.

Wuhan is a city of more than 11 million in central China – about 450 miles inland from Shanghai.

Most of those suffering from the outbreak work at a seafood market in the city — the capital of Hubei Province. Chinese media report the market also sells live animals and the organs of rabbits and other wildlife.

The World Health Organization says the market link could show exposure to animals may be a factor, but a lot of basic information is still being gathered and analyzed.

On Monday, authorities said it was not SARS — the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that swept through Hong Kong and parts of China in 2002 and 2003 killing nearly 800 people.

No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak.

Doctors have also ruled out bird flu and several other viral strains.

But memories of the SARS crisis have led several cities to screen arriving passengers from Wuhan for fever – including Taipei, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.