The US State Department issued a health alert on Wednesday, January 15, warning US citizens in Wuhan (Hubei province) of the deadly new viral strain of pneumonia that broke out in the area in December 2019. This alert comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 1 alert on Tuesday, January 14, urging individuals in the area to avoid contact with animals (alive or dead), animal markets, animal products, and contact with sick people. As of Wednesday, 41 people were diagnosed with pneumonia that is believed to be caused by the new coronavirus, and one person has died from the disease.
No immediate evidence of human-to-human transmission has been confirmed. However, most patients reportedly have had links to the South China seafood market, which was closed on January 1 for disinfection.
Further spread of the illness is possible over the near term.
Experts from the National Health Commission have ruled out possible linkages with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bird flu, and adenovirus.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals in China, particularly those in Hubei province, are advised to take the necessary measures to protect themselves from the pneumonia strain by washing hands frequently with soap and water and avoiding animals (alive or dead), animal markets, animal products, and contact with sick people.