WATCH LIVE: Click here for the latest as the CDC reports new cases of the H5N1 virus, the same strain that triggered the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak in South Asia. Live-blogging from the scene below.
The World Health Organization has put out a travel advisory advising travelers to China and surrounding countries to monitor their health closely. Doctors and epidemiologists are combing through data to figure out whether the newly confirmed infections are from the same strain as the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), known as H5N1.
Authorities on Monday said that authorities were monitoring about 1,500 travelers to Hubei province who had visited the hospitals in the region. Thirty percent of the 1,200 people who had been in contact with the nine confirmed cases were being tracked.
Hui Haijun, director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Western Pacific region, told reporters that the initial testing of human body fluids from one of the deaths did not reveal H5N1. He said that it was too early to say if there were any connection to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), but authorities were focusing their investigation on a “specific area, probably in the province of Hubei.”
“We are still figuring out what we have to investigate next, but the investigation will first focus on the city and then on the province to look at the details,” Hui said.
The evidence of a link with SARS came only days after the Chinese government said there was no new case of SARS since last July. H5N1 infections, on the other hand, have been reported in the mainland since 2015.
At the conclusion of the news conference, Dr. Hui delivered a grim warning.
“We are still seeing more people die from this virus. Meanwhile, the numbers of patients are not decreasing,” he said. “I strongly urge people to pay close attention to their symptoms, monitor their health, avoid going outdoors in the afternoon and follow their doctor’s advice.”
To combat the problem, Dr. Hui said that authorities had strengthened the monitoring of the H5N1 virus and it was reported that it was airborne and transmitted from person to person. He told reporters that people who were exposed to the virus were most likely to have an underlying health condition that made them more prone to infection.
Read the full story on The Local.
WHO calls for expanded efforts to battle Nipah virus
Flu virus spreads again in China; two dead in Shanghai
China offers forgiveness on conscription fees in honor of Chairman Mao