A new kind of virus called coronavirus is spreading in China over the weekend. The new coronavirus has killed 17 people and affected hundreds more. China confirmed that the new strain of coronavirus is a type of pneumonia that can pass from person to person. Although the outbreak is believed to have originated from a Wuhan market, a new study claims the epidemic jumped to humans from a snake.
A group of Chinese scientists revealed the new report and also predicted that the epidemic would reach its peak in March. The World Health Organization (WHO) named it as the new coronavirus 2019-nCOV. The researchers found the unique genetic coding pattern matching with the virus to a wide range of animals. Two snake species, the Chinese krait, and the Chinese cobra were the closest matches. So the scientists consider them to be the source of the newly discovered coronavirus. Chinese krait is mostly found in central and southern China and Southeast Asia.
"The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO said in a news conference.
At first, the illness was reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan, a major city in central China. Scientists gathered samples from the virus isolated patients and have determined the genetic code of the virus. The pathogen responsible for this pandemic is a new coronavirus. The signs of infection with the new virus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
Chinese people usually eat snakes and several other wild animals. During the investigation, it also came to the limelight that snakes were among the animals sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where people worked or visited before they fell sick. China also said they had consumed wild animal meat at least once in the previous two years.
The Chinese authority has admitted that the country is at the "most critical stage" of prevention and control. Li Bin, the vice-minister of the National Health Commission, warned people, "Basically, do not go to Wuhan. And those in Wuhan, please do not leave the city."
"Though the transmission route of the virus is yet to be fully understood, there is a possibility of virus mutation and a risk of further spread of the epidemic," Mr. Li added.