China confirms human-to-human transmission of new coronavirus, medical staff infected
The new coronavirus that has caused a pneumonia outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan can be spread through human-to-human contact, according to Zhong Nanshan, the expert who discovered the SARS virus during an outbreak in China in 2003.
Zhong confirmed human-to-human infection during a live interview with China Central Television. He also said that some medical staff in Wuhan have been infected.
Yet, he remains confident that the outbreak will be put under control.
"We have confidence in controlling the new coronavirus," he said.
Other experts from a high-level group at China's National Health Commission Monday also expressed confidence in controlling the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Zhong said that people from all walks of society should be on alert.
As of Monday, over 210 cases have been confirmed in Chinese cities, including Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing. Cases have also been reported in Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
Zhong said 95 percent of the cases are connected with Wuhan residents, either going there or coming from the city, where the mysterious pneumonia was initially reported in December.
This coronavirus, the seventh that affects people, is newly known to the world and changing every day, Gao Fu, another expert of the high-level group, told reporters.
The outbreak may spread to larger areas because of the large population movement during the Spring Festival rush.
But experts said there's no need to panic as China's prevention and control level has greatly improved over the years.
"The situation is still in its initial stage," said Zeng Guang, another expert in the group. "The outbreak can surely be contained with the right measures taken."
Scientists are accelerating research to study the origins of the virus and how it is spreading.
Experts have warned people, especially those in Wuhan who had relevant symptoms including fever and cough, to get tested in hospitals as a precaution as soon as possible.
China has been pushing hard on hospitals across the country to set up fever clinics.
"If you live in Wuhan and have a fever, you should not leave the city right now," Zhong warned.
The city government requires anyone leaving Wuhan to take a body temperature check. People with a high temperature may not be allowed to leave.