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Nepal confirms Wuhan coronavirus, second case in U.S., virus similar to SARS

Christian Fernsby |
Health authorities in Nepal today confirmed that a student who returned from Wuhan, China tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the first South Asian country to report the deadly disease.

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Topics: WUHAN    CORONAVIRUS   

The 32 year old student arrived in Nepal on January 9, and entered the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Kathmandu four days later after running a fever and reporting trouble breathing, hospital spokesperson Anup Bastola told AFP.

The health ministry confirmed the case in a statement.

"The results of a sample, sent to Hong Kong, have returned positive," Bastola told AFP.

"He was discharged after recovery. We are monitoring the patient and he and his family members are healthy. So are all the health workers in the hospital," Bastola said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that a second case of Wuhan coronavirus has been confirmed inside the U.S.

The patient was making her way back to Chicago from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, in mid-January. She is now in stable condition and doing well, Scientific American reports.

Almost 900 cases of the virus have been identified so far, with at least 26 deaths as of today, according to CNBC.

The new coronavirus rapidly spreading in China and nearby countries seems to trigger symptoms similar to those seen in the severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS) coronavirus outbreak in 2003, two new studies show.

In one study, researchers looked at clinical records, laboratory results, imaging findings and epidemiological data on the first 41 infected people admitted to the hospital in Wuhan between Dec. 16, 2019 and Jan. 2, 2020.

Patients were typically middle-aged (average age 49), three-quarters were men, and two-thirds had visited a local seafood market thought to be where the virus originated.

Similar to the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, most patients who came down with the Wuhan coronavirus were healthy, without any chronic underlying health issues. And symptoms also resembled those of SARS, said Chinese researchers led by Bin Cao, from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, both in Beijing.

All of the hospitalized patients had developed pneumonia, nearly all (98%) had a fever, three-quarters developed a cough, 44% felt fatigued, and 55% had some shortness of breath. Symptoms such as headache or diarrhea were rare, however.

On the other hand, "despite sharing some similar symptoms to SARS [such as fever, dry cough, shortness of breath], there are some important differences," Cao said in a Lancet news release.

For example, people with the new virus typically didn't have runny noses or other symptoms involving the upper respiratory tract, he said. And very few had intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, which occurred in about a quarter of SARS patients.

All flights from Wuhan to Moscow have been cancelled over the coronavirus outbreak in China, the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport said.

"Yes, all flights have been cancelled, it is impossible to leave," Sputnik cited the airport's service desk as saying.

When asked whether the ban concerned only direct flights, the airport representative stressed that "all flights were cancelled."

Several Asian carriers have suspended flights to Wuhan, as the Chinese city is put on lockdown to contain a respiratory virus outbreak.

Taiwan’s China Airlines is suspending Wuhan flights from Taipei Taoyuan and Taipei Songshan between 23 January and 29 February.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Dragon has put all Wuhan flights on hold from 24 January to 29 February.

Singapore’s Scoot will suspend its daily service to the city from 23 to 26 January.

AirAsia Group’s Wuhan services from Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok and Phuket are meanwhile suspended until 28 January.

In recent days, China’s Civil Aviation Administration said that all Chinese carriers would handle refunds for flights to Wuhan free of charge.

France confirmed two cases of deadly new virus from China, the first in Europe.


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