DEADLY VIRUS

Human-animal interaction linked to coronavirus

In Summary

• In the recent outbreak, there are 43,103 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally. Of that number, 1,017 people have died.

• In China, where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported, there are 42,708 confirmed cases. 

Medical staff carry a box at Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China
OUTBREAK: Medical staff carry a box at Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China
Image: /REUTERS

Human-animal interaction demonstrates the link between recent and previous coronavirus outbreaks.

The World Health Organization said in a report on the coronavirus situation on Tuesday that rhinolophus bat subspecies are abundant and widely present in Southern China, and across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

 

“Recent studies indicate that more than 500 coronaviruses have been identified in bats in China. Serological studies conducted in the rural population living close to bats natural habitat in caves revealed 2.9 percent bat-CoV seroprevalence, demonstrating that humans' exposure to be common,” WHO said.

The global body said the mode of transmission to humans, however, remains unclear. “The current most likely hypothesis is that an intermediary host animal has played a role in the transmission.”

Both Chinese and external expert groups are trying to identify the source of the new virus.

In the recent outbreak, there are 43,103 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally. Of that number, 1,017 people have died.

In China, where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported, there are 42,708 confirmed cases.  Of that number, 7,333 cases are severe.

Outside China, there are 395 confirmed cases with 76 new cases in 24 countries. There is one death outside China.

WHO has named the disease COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

This follows WHO best practices for naming new human infectious diseases, which were developed in consultation and collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

WHO said identifying the animal source in 2019-nCoV would help ensure that there would be no further future similar outbreaks of the same virus and would also help understand the initial spread of the disease in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak.

“It would also increase our understanding of the virus and help us understand how these viruses jump from animals to humans.”

WHO said by identifying the animal source, it will provide critical knowledge on how countries can protect themselves from future infections.

The global body said there is a need to strengthen food control and market hygiene activities in the food market as it is essential in protecting people from similar and other zoonotic diseases.

Since being notified of the outbreak on December 31, the WHO Country Office in China, supported by regional and international offices, has worked to support China, and indeed the world, to scale up the response.