Man, 91, and five children in coronavirus outbreak epicentre of Wuhan recover from the disease

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Heartwarming footage has captured children being discharged from hospital after beating the killer coronavirus that is sweeping the world. 

Doctors wearing face masks and white overalls were recorded celebrating with the youngsters who were released from Wuhan Children’s Hospital. 

Media in the coronavirus-hit Hubei province, where Wuhan is, also today revealed a 91-year-old man has also recovered and been discharged. 

They shared a photo of the man clutching a walking stick and sitting in a wheelchair as he was flanked by two medics, with all three people wearing masks.  

Almost 640 people have now died from the never-before-seen virus, with more than 31,500 cases recorded around the world. 

China Global Television Network shared the heartening footage of the five children who had been released after fighting off coronavirus.

The video appears to show parents with their children as they leave the hospital. 

In one clip, two adults are seen holding the hands of their youngsters as they walk towards a waiting ambulance. 

A parent is then seen flanked by two mask-wearing medics as they leave the hospital while holding a toddler in their arms.

One of the medics is seen carrying what appears to be a set of toys in a box.

Later in the video the group of recovered children and their parents are seen surrounded by medics outside the hospital as they pose with their thumbs up.

The footage also explained that the hospital had earlier confirmed two cases among babies, one of which had just been born. 

The news, which came on Friday, left Doctors in China fearing that the infection could be passed from mothers to babies in the womb. 

Fang Yurong, a paediatrician at the Wuhan hospital, revealed how often youngsters won’t complain of the typical symptoms of the infection.

She said: ‘Children react differently than adults, they wouldn’t say I’m sore or tired. They may just refuse to eat, [have a]lack of spirits, cry or be dejected.’

The youngest patient to have been released is believed to be a two-year-old. They fully recovered after a ‘range’ of treatments – none of which were revealed.  

And Chinese state media China Daily claimed that a 91-year-old man has also recovered. 

In a caption above the Twitter post showing him in his wheelchair outside the hospital, they wrote: ‘Good news! 

‘A 91-year-old man has recovered from novel #coronavirus and was discharged from hospital in #Hubei.’    

It is believed that the virus is not as dangerous for children, and whilst the reasons why are not clear, medics have speculated that they get a milder version of the disease.

Dr Malik Peiris, chief of virology at the University of Hong Kong, said in a report published in JAMA:  ‘My strong, educated guess is that younger people are getting infected, but they get the relatively milder disease.’ 

However, yesterday a doctor working in the outbreak warned that patients who recover are at risk of relapsing or catching the virus again. 

One of the riskiest elements of the coronavirus is that people have no immunity to it because it’s completely new.

And although the body is able to become partly immune to some viruses – like flu – or almost completely immune to others – like chickenpox – reinfections do happen.

Dr Zhan Qingyuan said there is a ‘likelihood of relapse’ for patients who have recovered from the coronavirus. 

It comes after leading British scientists today called for a blanket ban on all travellers from China to the UK until the world develops a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus as the Government faces backlash for its ‘weak’ response to the outbreak that has killed 638 people.

Experts argue travel restrictions are ‘worth implementing’ because they ‘buy valuable time’ for virologists to create and mass-produce a jab that can prevent the spread of the SARS-like infection on home soil.

The stark warning comes from leading infectious disease specialists Professor Paul Hunter and Professor John Edmunds, who today spoke at a hastily organised meeting by the respected Science Media Centre – an independent body that prides itself on being ‘unashamedly pro-science’.

Their calls to ramp up measures come amid backlash at the Government’s ‘weak’ response to the outbreak.

Last night it issued ‘updated travel advice’ – which simply warned travellers from nine Asian countries ‘to phone NHS 111 and quarantine themselves’ if they feel ill.

Ministers announced the advice after a businessman who had not visited mainland China was confirmed to be the third case of the coronavirus in the UK.

He is thought to be in his 40s or 50s and attended a business conference in Singapore organised by a UK company called Servomex, which describes itself as a ‘provider of reliable, accurate and stable gas measurements’ and is based not far away from Brighton.

Health bosses have now launched a frantic but farcical hunt for anyone who spent more than 15 minutes with the middle-aged man – despite not quarantining his own family.

Furious Brits have slammed the ‘weak’ measures to prevent more cases in the UK, urging ministers to shut the border and saying ‘serious guidance is needed’. Others have questioned if it’s time to start wearing face masks.

It comes after British honeymooner Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, became the second confirmed UK national to be diagnosed with the lethal disease after catching it on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan.

Mr Steele was hauled off the Diamond Princess cruise liner and separated from his wife Wendy at Yokohama Bay this morning before being whisked into quarantine after testing positive for corona despite not yet showing any symptoms.

Almost 640 people have died from the coronavirus, which can be spread through coughs, sneezes and touching contaminated surfaces. Figures also show more than 31,000 cases have been recorded in 28 countries and territories around the world.

The Department of Health today refused to comment on the calls for a travel ban. Ministers claim to be following the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which says travel bans can prove disruptive and harm the economies of affected nations, as well as discourage China from being transparent about the outbreak.

In other developments to the escalating outbreak today:

British tourist Alan Steele , from Wolverhampton, was hauled off a cruise liner and taken to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus on his honeymoon in Japan

Officials have launched a frantic appeal for anyone who has spent 15 minutes with Britain’s third coronavirus patient – but won’t reveal who he is

Authorities say the British victim caught the deadly virus at a business conference while staying in a £1,000-a-night five-star hotel in Singapore

Local media reports the conference was held by a British-based company which provides ‘stable gas measurements’

China’s central government has ordered Wuhan – the outbreak’s epicentre – to round up all suspected patients as well as their close contacts in mass quarantine camps

Wuhan officials are now carrying out door-to-door health checks to identify potential carriers who would need to be isolated. 

Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

At least 566 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 28,200 have been infected in at least 28 countries and regions. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases.  Here’s what we know so far:

 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started seeing infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent similar to a coronavirus they found in bats.

There may have been an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human, researchers suggested, although details of this are less clear.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.  

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.

 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, yesterday said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

The virus has so far killed 566 people out of a total of at least 28,000 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed.

Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.

 

The Wuhan coronavirus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

   

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region. 

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world. 

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