Chinese scientists have identified a previously unknown type of coronavirus as the cause of a recent pneumonia outbreak in the city of Wuhan. While this is the same family as the SARS virus, it appears to be a new disease – NCoV. Not only do the viruses themselves appear to be similar in symptoms and transmission. Six people have died from the mysterious new coronavirus that was first detected in the Chinese city in late 2018. Out of the 200-300 people projected to have been infected with the virus overall, 77 new cases have been reported in other parts of China, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and now to the US.
This isn’t the first time the world is experiencing the pandemic, more than 8,000 people were infected with the SARS virus, and almost 800 died in the 2002. The same type of virus was associated with a similar outbreak of MERS, which was first identified in 2013 in Saudi Arabia. According to WHO, MERS has been responsible for about 850 deaths worldwide.
The symptoms of the virus are similar to flu or cold symptoms. It affects the throat, ears, and sinuses. The real problems are that NCoV has not been seen in humans before and is antibiotic resistant, so scientists don’t know how to treat it. This is all complicated by the fact that Chinese authorities are constantly revising the number of those infected; confirming that while the virus in question can cause severe illness in some people, it doesn’t easily transmit between people.