A new coronavirus was identified by Chinese authorities from a pneumonia patient in Wuhan, China after an outbreak of the infection in the city, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.
In a statement, the WHO said Chinese investigators made the preliminary determination of a novel coronavirus following gene sequencing of the said virus using an isolate from one positive patient sample.
“Chinese authorities subsequently reported that laboratory tests ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus, and other common respiratory pathogens,” the statement read.
Chinese authorities warned that the virus in question can cause severe illness in some patients but does not transmit readily between people.
The preliminary determination, the WHO said, will assist authorities in other countries to conduct disease detection and response against the new virus.
“Over the past week, people with symptoms of pneumonia and reported a travel history to Wuhan have been identified at international airports,” the statement read.
However, the WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers to the affected city or any parts of China.
“WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available,” the statement read.
The discovery of the new virus occurred after initial information on those infected—including occupation, location, and symptom profile—pointed to a coronavirus as a possible pathogen causing the outbreak.
In the coming weeks, the international organization said more comprehensive information would be required to further understand the status and epidemiology of the outbreak and clinical picture.
“Further investigations are also required to determine the source, modes of transmission, extent of infection and countermeasures implemented,” the statement read.
The WHO, with its partners, also offered technical support to China in responding to the outbreak.
First detected on December 12, 2019, in Wuhan and has since infected a total of 59 people, the WHO said China’s preliminary identification of the new virus in a short period of time demonstrated the country’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks.
According to the WHO, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with a wide range of severity—with some causing less-severe disease such as the common cold, and others more severe such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
Transmission of the disease may also pass on easily from person-to-person while others do not, the WHO added.
On Sunday, the Department of Health ordered the Bureau of Quarantine to tighten the checking of travelers in all airports and seaports especially those manifesting signs of fever or respiratory infections.