Wuhan, a city in China where more than 11 million people reside, has temporarily shut down public transport in an effort to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Authorities have advised people not to leave the city. The new deadly, mysterious virus that is causing pneumonia-like illness has been reported in other parts of China, while some cases have surfaced in the United States as well.
So far, the officials confirmed more than 500 cases and 17 deaths.
The officials have recommended Wuhan residents to avoid crowds and minimize public gatherings. Hotels and tourist attractions in the city have been suspended.
After a day’s long discussions in Geneva, the WHO’s emergency committee has announced that it will not yet declare a “global emergency” over the new coronavirus.
Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said they need more information about the spread of the infection and the emergency committee will once again meet on Thursday.
Dr. Ghebreyesus described the latest measures as “very strong” and said they would “not only control the outbreak; they will minimize spread internationally.”
Chinese authorities said the nation was now at the “most critical stage” of prevention and control.
Vice-minister of the National Health Commission Li Bin said, “Basically, do not go to Wuhan. And those in Wuhan please do not leave the city.”
Meanwhile, it has been found that snakes – the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra – could be the original source of coronavirus. They are high venomous and found in much of central and southern China and Southeast Asia.
Experts used the samples of the virus isolated from patients and have determined the genetic code of the virus. They said the pathogen responsible for this pandemic is a new type of coronavirus, which belongs to the same family of viruses that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the new coronavirus “2019 nCoV.”
The SARS outbreak, which took place in the early 2000s, killed more than 800 people across the world.
The researchers analyzed protein codes favored by the new coronavirus. They then compared those protein codes to the protein codes from coronaviruses found in animals, such as birds, snakes, marmots, hedgehogs, bats, as well as humans.
Surprisingly, they discovered that the protein codes in the 2019 nCoV were most similar to those found in snakes. According to a few reports, snakes were sold in the local seafood market in Wuhan, which has raised the possibility that the 2019 nCoV might have come from those snakes and eventually to humans.