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Frightening mystery virus continues to spread as US embassy warns Americans living in China

Published Jan 7th, 2020 12:02PM EST
china virus
Image: Andy Wong/AP/Shutterstock

The bizarre “unidentified pneumonia” that Chinese health officials first began monitoring a little over a week ago has now spread to over twice the original number of victims. As South China Morning Post reports, the bizarre virus has now been confirmed in 59 individuals, up from 44 late last week and far more than the original 27 confirmed cases from the last week of 2019.

The US embassy in Beijing is now warning any American citizens traveling in China to take precautions against becoming infected, though with such little information about the illness it’s difficult to know what kind of measures one should take.

While health officials don’t know exactly what the virus is, it’s believed to have originated in or around the Huanan seafood market. Most of those who originally came down with the virus worked there, and it’s become the center of the investigation. Meanwhile, anyone who has had contact with infected individuals is being closely monitored for symptoms, but thus far it doesn’t appear that the sickness has been able to spread from person to person.

While the strange virus has been compared to the deadly SARS outbreak of years past, scientists have been able to determine that they are not the same. That’s obviously a good thing, at least on the surface, but health officials still need to learn more about the virus and its origins before they know how to best fight it.

Officials in Hong Kong are monitoring travelers coming and going from the Wuhan region, and taking extra precautions. That means placing individuals who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms under quarantine while they confirm whether or not any of them have this new virus strain. Thus far, all the travelers have been given clearance after monitoring.

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