Wuhan virus: this is what we know about the mysterious virus that has already caused three deaths in China

The incipient crisis with the Chinese virus is beginning to raise some alarms internationally. After the third confirmed death, other infections in Thailand and Japan are pushing the concern of the population.

However, we already know the mysterious Wuhan virus, a new coronavirus capable of causing severe pneumonia but not reported to be as easily transmitted as it appears, nor is a virulently spreading pandemic expected at the moment. Let's review what we know about this "mysterious" virus.

Third death in China confirmed

This Monday, China has confirmed the third death, which joins those of two other men, 61 and 69 years old, last December. This death comes along with the confirmation this weekend of new positives in Thailand and Japan, as well as a wave of infections in Wuhan.

Specifically, local authorities have detailed 136 new positives, although thousands of possible infections are estimated, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to date to 198. This contrasts with the information given by the Municipal Commission, which had ensured that There had been no new cases since January 3, hinting that the situation was under control.

The World Health Organization ensures that transmission between humans is not so easy or virulent), but these new data, without denying the WHO's forecasts, will force us to review what is known about the virus. At the moment, the pandemic at the international level is not ruled out, although it is considered unlikely. What do we know about the virus?

What is the mysterious Wuhan virus?

Named after the city where the first outbreaks have appeared, and where the epidemic has already been declared, this coronavirus, denoted as 2019-nCoV by the WHO, is a single-stranded RNA coronavirus. It was sequenced at the end of last year, after the first infections, with the aim of being able to detect it in patients. As a result of this work, we know today that it has many similarities to bat beta-coronaviruses.

This sets it apart from other coronaviruses, the typical influenza virus causing acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, or the Eastern Coronavirus Respiratory Syndrome, MERS. These two are known for their virulence and lethality. At the moment, we do not know its ability to affect and spread safely, but the WHO, as we said, is somewhat flattering in this regard.

According to experts, transmission could only result between very close people, with very direct contact, there being an important barrier in the spread of the virus to other populations. Even so, as we said, there are already infections outside Wuhan and the number of those infected within the city has continued to grow.

Electron microscopy image of the virus

And where did it come from? Coronaviruses are known to be among the most common examples of zoonosis, that is, contagion from animals. These relatively simple viruses often have a gene pool in animal populations. Mutations allow this virus to be transmitted and affect humans, as was the case with SARS that started in Guangdong in 2002.

For now, we have to keep waiting. China, in particular, is a fairly airtight country in terms of this type of news, providing a fairly brief amount of news. For example, despite hundreds of confirmed cases, a recent study of the Imperial College London estimates that the number of cases could be close to 2,000. There are still many unknowns regarding the Wuhan virus, unknowns that will be revealed little by little.

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