China identifies new virus causing pneumonia-like illness

Researchers in China report they have "initially identified" a new virus, a coronavirus, as the source of the pneumonia-like illness that has sickened nearly 60 people in Wuhan. The mysterious illness has led to panic in parts of China, which was hit by a deadly epidemic of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, 17 years ago.

Researchers in China report they have "initially identified" a new virus, a coronavirus, as the source of the pneumonia-like illness that has sickened nearly 60 people in Wuhan. The mysterious illness has led to panic in parts of China, which was hit by a deadly epidemic of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, 17 years ago. According to the researchers, who detected the new virus in 15 of the people who became ill, the coronavirus "is different from previous human coronaviruses that were previously discovered, and more scientific research is needed for further understanding." Although there are still many questions to be answered, the announcement indicates that researchers are making some progress. "Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement and demonstrates China's increased capacity to manage new outbreaks," said Gauden Galea, MD, the World Health Organization's representative to China, in a statement. The new virus appears to be transmitted to humans via animals; however, China has not yet said which animals are involved, nor has it revealed other details about the outbreak, including the transmission route, the incubation period, or the ages and genders of the patients.