Virus compared with SARS not found in China
Updated: 2012-09-28 07:57
By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)
China has yet to report any human infection caused by a new member of the family of viruses that cause the common cold as well as SARS, the country's top disease-control department said on Thursday.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the new coronavirus, which causes respiratory symptoms that many fear is SARS-like in a patient in Qatar and killed another people in Saudi Arabia this year, has not been found in China.
And the center will be able to identify people infected with the virus in China using part of the virus' RNA sequence that was passed on by UK health authorities, said Wang Shiwen, an official of the center's viral disease prevention and control department.
"We got part of its RNA sequence from Britain's Health Protection Agency," he said.
Britain's Health Protection Agency said on its website this week that the new coronavirus, which infected a man from Qatar who is being treated in the UK, is "different from any (coronaviruses) that have previously been identified in humans".
The 49-year-old patient was transferred to Britain on Sept 11 because of the severity of his condition.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization confirmed the two cases were from the Arabian Peninsula. However, it emphasized that the virus is not the one that causes SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed about 800 people, most of them in Asia, in 2003.
"It is unusual and it is different from SARS," Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, said at a news conference on Tuesday. "I need to emphasize again and again that this is not SARS, it will not become SARS ... It is distinct from SARS at least in the fact that ... it causes very rapid renal failure."
"Our test shows that the part of RNA sequence (the center got from Britain) is 73.6 percent similar to the SARS virus," he said.
Yet according to Hartl, not much is known about the virus and there is no indication that it is transmitted person-to-person because there were too few cases.
"Given the severity of the two confirmed cases so far, WHO is engaged in further characterizing the novel coronavirus," the organization said on its website.
However, Wang said that there is no need for panic in China.
"The center is watching closely for potential cases with the national epidemic report system. We are able to detect the virus in time," he added.
Cao Bin, head of the department of infection and clinical microbiology at Beijing's Chaoyang Hospital, agreed.
"Coronaviruses are very common. They cause respiratory infection from just a sore throat to fatal pneumonia. Different viruses may lead to different incidence rates and different levels of health threats," Cao said.
"The key is immunity. Anyone experiencing severe respiratory syndrome, such as fever, cough and even breathing very fast, should go to the doctor immediately," said Wang.
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