The discovery of a likely culprit in a deadly viral outbreak that killed more than a dozen people in a Chinese resort that also infected dozens in Europe was found by a World Health Organization specialist.
Infectious disease experts were searching in the hospitality quarter of the city of Zhuhan—where the outbreak was confirmed as the first at the end of March—for signs that could point to the virus that originated in a camper staying with a female friend, infections that hurtled across Europe and have claimed the lives of one infected person.
Infection cases from Briton Tom Knox, a 63-year-old British man who had been with a large family at the epicentre of the outbreak that spread from his villa near the Chinese border where they lived, have been linked to a 40-year-old woman who had taken a trip to the city earlier this month.
Patients have been called experts with a 21st day, with more tests left to be done, but on Sunday WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said those experts were not cited by authorities as having found the virus.
“The knowledge of experts who have published their own findings is not therefore widely available,” he said in an international video message to the international public broadcast by the WHO.“The WHO should list experts who have been found with infectious diseases, how the disease manifested, and results in clinical and epidemiological studies.”
The Global Engagement and Translation Emergency Team based in Singapore said the discovery came after weeks of exhausting its information for a review and that a search of results could take months.
The team, based in Singapore, said it had been unable to get to the bottom of the viral mystery, but was confident.”The thing that concerns us most is the fact that the WHO has stonewalled (…) people who were sick,” said David Eagan of WHO’s Department of Medical Epidemiology.
Noting that Europe has reported about 30,000 cases – including nurses, soldiers and people evacuated from mainland China and Hong Kong – Singapore’s medical community is now concerned about the possibility that collaboration in other parts of the world on the infection could spread.
“I think the bottom line is that what we have here are faint indications that this could be a new virus and we’re still dealing with it,” Eagan, the WHO’s epidemiology lead, told the news conference.
Suspects are being asked not to identify their contacts, the teams said. They had first used 2.5 million people from as many as 61 countries.
E H Ones, a spokesman for the People’s Daily newspaper in China, said a search of the hotel where the rooms were booked for the tourist from March 21 to 24 became available on Tuesday. The rooms cost about 7,700 yuan ($1,830) each with a treatment of three days, he said.
Authorities also said they had identified 180 hotel guests who lived in 211 rooms.
The outbreak has killed one person and infected at least ten others in mainland China since March 21, leading to 780 confirmed cases. As of Wednesday it had been found in five countries outside China.
The Government of China announced it is banning all flights from Hubei province, home to Zhuhan, and in neighbouring provinces to stem the spread.
Doctors and city officials have held in their wake a walkout scheduled to start on April 10 by the Yichang district government in Zhejiang, near the epicentre of the outbreak. It could culminate in a -Qi-blood questionnaire test session in downtown Zhejiang, which has been blocking access for all but legal-carried tourists.
Chang Jingyu, a Chinese health minister in charge of coronavirus mitigation, said he had urged doctors from all over China to work overtime to prevent the toxic blood products from spreading and triaging shortages.
“We need overtime for doctors but from now nothing has been created. (…) One other thing is to question whether we can even resolve the issue,” he told a news conference.