By Isabella Nikolic
London, February 4 (Daily Main Online): A ‘Highly pathogenic’ H5N1 bug that can spread to humans has killed 4,500 chickens on a farm south of the Coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan. A farm in Shaoyang city in the southern province of Hunan reported the outbreak.
Chinese authorities have already culled 17,828 birds in wake of the disease. The area has now been sealed off and sterilized to try and prevent transmission.
Although the disease doesn’t easily infect humans and it is hard to spread it from human to human, several people have been infected around the world and died.
When people do become infected by the disease, the rate of mortality is about 60 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation.
People can become infected by coming into close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.
Shaoyang is about 302 miles from the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began late last month.
As the coronavirus death toll in China today rose to 350 and the World Health Organisation has declared a global emergency, it has also emerged that there are now almost 10,000 people infected, mostly in China, with cases in 25 countries and territories including the US, Canada, France, Italy and Germany with Sweden the latest.
After two days of uncertainty, a Boeing 747 rescue plane carrying mainly British citizens took off from the city of Wuhan last night, touched at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. It left China carrying 83 Britons – but had been expected to be carrying 150 – it had space for 450-plus passengers;
Dozens of expats with seats booked were left stranded in China after being given between seven minutes and two hours to get to the airport in a city with public transport shut down.
The British Foreign Office is now in ‘urgent discussions’ with EU countries about a second rescue flight back from Wuhan.
Scientists writing in prestigious medical journal “The Lancet” estimate that up to 75,800 individuals in Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, may have been infected with the new coronavirus by January 25 – significantly more than the official toll of 2,639 in the deserted city
It can take up to two weeks, or potentially more, for symptoms to appear so people may not know they are infected.
What do we know about the Wuhan coronavirus?
Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
At least 213 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 9,800 have been infected in at least 21 countries and regions. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. Here’s what we know so far:
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it.
Thailand health officials claim ‘good results’ after using two antiviral drugs on coronavirus patients. Thailand has seen promising results after using a mix of two antiviral drugs, according to a health ministry briefing, reports Bloomberg.
Medics tested the drug mix on a patient who was in a serious condition with the disease and within 48 hours they were declared disease-free.
The drugs, originally used for HIV and influenza treatment, were a success according to Dr Kriangsak Attipornwanich.
Thailand has seen 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 11 are still in hospital but the rest have returned home.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Chanvirakul said that the nation will repatriate more than 100 people from Wuhan on February 4 after they pass medical screening in China.
They will then be quarantined for 14 days after returning to Thailand.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
Bats are a prime suspect – researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a recent statement: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.’
And another scientific journal article has suggested the virus first infected snakes, which may then have transmitted it to people at the market in Wuhan.
Peking University researchers analyzed the genes of the coronavirus and said they most closely matched viruses which are known to affect snakes. They said: ‘Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,’ in the Journal of Medical Virology.