COVID-19: Scientists In 2007 Warned China Was A ‘Time Bomb’ For Virus Outbreak
New Delhi: As the world battles growing new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed over 14,500 people, a study that appeared 12 years back then claimed that the situation in China was a “time bomb” for a dangerous virus outbreak.
Published by the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews in 2007, the researchers noted that the “presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb”.
The cause for concern was due to the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China.
“The possibility of the reemergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored,” warned the study.
Coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new genotypes and outbreaks.
It’s been 17 years since a respiratory virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) appeared in China.
By the time the global SARS outbreak was contained, the virus spread to over 8,000 people worldwide and killed almost 800.
The new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 which causes the disease COVID-19, surpassed the 2003 SARS outbreak long back. It has killed over 14,500 people and infected over 2.40 lakh people globally, according to the latest data from John Hopkins University’s Coronavirus resource Center.
China Says COVID-19 ‘Stemmed’ In Country
As the world battles the fast-paced spared of the coronavirus pandemic, China on Monday said that COVID-19 has effectively been “stemmed” in the country and it started easing severe restrictions imposed on Wuhan’s 11 million people who were under lockdown since January 23.
The authorities began relaxing restrictions in Wuhan as it reported no new case for the fifth consecutive day on Monday.
The country’s National Health Commission (NHC) said that no new domestic cases of coronavirus have been reported but confirmed 39 imported infections as the government ramped up measures to strictly quarantine people coming from abroad to prevent a recurrence of the virus outbreak.
The death toll in the country has climbed to 3,270 with nine fatalities on Sunday.
The overall confirmed cases on the mainland have reached 81,093 by Sunday.
It included 3,270 people who died of the disease, 5,120 patients still undergoing treatment 72,703 patients discharged after recovery, the NHC said.
Significantly, the Central Leading Group (CLP), headed by Premier Li Keqiang which is coordinating efforts to contain the virus since January 23, said the virus has been stemmed in the country as well as in Wuhan.
“The meeting noted that the spread of the virus nationwide, particularly in the epicentre of Wuhan, has been effectively stemmed,” an official statement said.
The meeting, however, warned that the risks for sporadic infections and localised outbreaks have not gone away. With the pandemic rampaging across the world, the situation remains complex and challenging. There is every need to maintain cool-headedness and not let off guard.
“Wuhan city and Hubei province should stay focused on medical treatment and community-level containment as the two key priorities. They should continue to treat the severe cases, promptly admit new cases, and advance epidemiological investigations,” the meeting said.
In Wuhan, officials said people are allowed to go back to work while restrictions on the public transport are gradually being eased.
The Hubei province and its capital Wuhan with over 56 million people were under lockdown since January 23. The vicious virus broke out in city, reportedly at a live animal market in December last year and became virulent inflicting thousands of people in the city and province catching the government off guard.
No new confirmed or suspected cases have been reported in the hard-hit Hubei province or Wuhan city for five consecutive days, Mi Feng, an official with NHC, told the media here.
Arduous efforts have been made since Wuhan was locked down two months ago, Mi said, adding that the number of existing infected cases kept decreasing.
However, zero new COVID-19 cases do not mean there is no risk, Mi said.
There are still potential risks of spreading and even cluster outbreaks, Mi noted, adding that there is still hard work ahead in epidemic prevention and control, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
While the domestic cases were stated to be easing, China reported an increasing number of imported cases.
Thirty-nine new confirmed cases were reported all of which were imported, which takes the total number of such cases to 353, the NHC said.
As the country saw a surge in imported infections, the government announced that all international flights scheduled to arrive in Beijing will be redirected to airports in 12 other Chinese cities from Monday.
International passengers flying to Beijing will instead land at airports in 12 cities including Shanghai, Tianjin, Nanjing and Shenyang as their first points of entry, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement.
On Monday, China said international travellers should “think twice” about choosing Beijing for flight transfer in view of the restrictions.
Due to China’s new regulation of redirecting international flights scheduled to arrive in Beijing, travellers were advised Monday to “think twice” about choosing Beijing Capital International Airport for transferring to flights to other countries, a Xinhua report said.
Starting from Monday, all international flights scheduled to arrive in Beijing will be redirected to airports in 12 other Chinese cities, Liu Haitao, an official with China’s National Immigration Administration said.
Passengers would go through entry procedures and quarantine measures at the designated cities’ airports before they continue their flights to Beijing, Liu said, urging travellers to reserve enough time for their next flights to make sure that they do not miss their outbound flights.
Meanwhile, the total number of deaths due to coronavirus stood at 15,189 globally, according to multiple reports. Over 341,300 declared cases have been registered in 174 countries and territories since the epidemic first emerged in China in December.
India has reported 415 coronavirus cases, the health ministry officials said, adding that the death toll stands at seven.
(With Agency Inputs)