While health officials in the Philippines and Singapore are closely monitoring airports and other points of entry to prevent the spread of a "mysterious China disease," as we reported last January 6, 2020, it is a precautionary measure, but there is no need to panic, the Department of Health (DOH) states.
On its Facebook account, DOH said it is "continuously monitoring the Mysterious China Disease and maintains that there is no cause for alarm."
DOH also added it has not released any health advisory or bulletin saying otherwise.
Chinese state media confirmed on Thursday, January 9, 2020, however, that the mysterious infectious disease is due to a new strain of coronavirus. It comes from the same family of viruses that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier suspected that the new virus is under the same family, according to its report released the day before.
"The new coronavirus that caused this epidemic situation is different from previously discovered human coronaviruses, and further understanding of the virus requires more scientific research," China Central Television (CCTV) said in a report published by GMA News.
Authorities have also ruled out SARS and MERS, as well as flu, bird flu, adenovirus, and other common respiratory pathogens.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, from a simple cold to deadly respiratory diseases, such as SARS and MERS. According to WHO, symptoms may include a simple fever, coughing, and other respiratory difficulties, and even kidney failure.
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The WHO noted that coronaviruses emerge periodically. In 2003, SARS spread through 37 countries, infecting 8,000 people and killing 774. The MERS coronavirus has since infected 2,468 since its emergence in 2012, and it has caused 851 deaths.
The Chinese report, however, said the new coronavirus strain can cause severe pneumonia-like illness in some patients, but it does not appear to be deadly. Persons infected showed fever with some patients having difficulty in breathing. Authorities believe it is not transferred from person to person.
As of Sunday, January 5, 2020, 59 people have already been infected in China. Among them, eight had recovered and have been discharged from the hospitals, CNN Philippines reports. Only seven patients were considered in critical condition at some point in their hospital stay. But no deaths have been reported.
"More comprehensive information is required to confirm the pathogen, as well as to better understand the epidemiology of the outbreak, the clinical picture, the investigations to determine the source, modes of transmission, extent of infection, and the countermeasures implemented," WHO stated.
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The first case of the mysterious China disease was first reported in December 2019, in Wuhan, China. There were also reports of people in Hong Kong and South Korea getting sick with a fever after traveling to Wuhan. None of those cases have been linked to the same virus.