WHO rings warning bells worldwide after emergence of China's coronavirus linked to SARS


The World Health Organization (WHO) officials have made a public announcement about the possibility of a wider outbreak of the new Novel Coronavirus. This move comes after 41 cases of pneumonia and one death were reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The preliminary lab tests suggest it is a large family of viruses with natural hosts as bats, and can cause infections ranging from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

Crux of the Matter
  • The outbreak revived memories of SARS, a disease which emerged in China in 2002 and sickened 8098 people in 37 countries before it was quashed in the summer of 2003. It was linked to a market selling myriad species of live animals.
  • The WHO has reported the symptom of the virus as fever and difficulty in breathing. Chest radiographs show invasive pneumonic infiltrates in both lungs.
  • Bats are the natural hosts being considered for this particular type of virus, with four of the bat viruses having surface proteins capable of infecting human cells.
  • Dr Maria D van Kerkhove, the head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonoses unit, said the coronavirus held “many similarities” to SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
  • China appears to be less than forthcoming with information as a Chinese woman has been quarantined in Thailand with a mystery strain of coronavirus, according to Thai authorities.
  • Meanwhile the United Nations agency has given guidance to hospitals worldwide about infection prevention and control. In case the new virus spreads, anti-virals are being considered.
  • There are also ongoing plans to soon publish a diagnostic test for the new virus that was developed by Christian Drosten, a virologist at Charité University Hospital in Berlin, and other researchers based on the sequences released by China. It detects fragments from three different genes in the novel coronavirus.

WHO or World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations. The WHO constitution has been signed by 61 countries (all 51 member countries and 10 others) on 22 July 1946, with the first meeting of the World Health Assembly finishing on 24 July 1948. It incorporated the Office International d’Hygiène Publique and the League of Nations Health Organization. Since its establishment, it has played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox. Its current priorities include communicable diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and tuberculosis; the mitigation of the effects of non-communicable diseases such as sexual and reproductive health, development, and aging; nutrition, food security and healthy eating; occupational health; substance abuse; and driving the development of reporting, publications, and networking. More Info