WHO walks back report of human-to-human infection - RTHK
A A A
Temperature Humidity
News Archive Can search within past 12 months

WHO walks back report of human-to-human infection

2020-01-14 HKT 19:27
Share this story facebook
  • The WHO says hospitals worldwide need to be on the alert over possible 'super-spreading' of the new virus that has broken out in Wuhan. File photo: RTHK
    The WHO says hospitals worldwide need to be on the alert over possible 'super-spreading' of the new virus that has broken out in Wuhan. File photo: RTHK
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has contradicted reports that one of its top officials had said that the new coronavirus that has caused a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, has been spreading between people.

The Reuters new agency had quoted the acting head of the WHO’s emerging diseases unit, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, as telling a Geneva news briefing that there has been “limited” human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus, mainly small clusters in families.

She had also been quoted as said the agency had given guidance to hospitals worldwide about infection control in case of spread, including by a “super-spreading” event in a health care setting.

But, when asked confirm the report, a WHO spokesman told RTHK "preliminary investigations conducted by the authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan. There has been no evidence of limited human-to-human transmission."

The statement added that it still unclear how the virus has been transmitted, and whether it's being passed between humans – as opposed to from wild animals, for example – is “always a concern when patients have respiratory symptoms”, adding that further investigation is required.

“For close contacts, or people who have been in the same place at the same time, it can be difficult to determine if they are ill due to exposure to a common source of infection, or because one person passed the illness to the other,” the spokesman said.

A Chinese woman has been quarantined in Thailand with a mystery strain, authorities said on Monday, the first time it has been detected outside China.

In all, 41 cases of the virus – which is similar to Sars which killed 299 in Hong Kong in 2003 – have been reported in Wuhan, mainly through exposure at a seafood market. One person there has died.

Hong Kong health officials have put dozens of people in isolation in hospital since New Year's Eve over fears they have caught the virus following trips to Wuhan, with three new suspected cases just on Tuesday.

But the SAR authorities haven't announced any confirmed cases and although Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have all reported suspected cases, no province on the mainland, other than Hubei, has reported any patients feared to have the virus.


______________________________
Last updated: 2020-01-14 HKT 23:08