BEIJING (Sputnik) – A deadly new form of coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has already claimed nine lives could possibly mutate, raising the risk of more infections, China’s National Health Commission deputy head Li Bin said on Wednesday.
“Recently, the number of confirmed cases of the virus has increased significantly, but this is undoubtedly due to the fact that we are becoming more and more aware of the virus, and have improved both screening methods and the supply of diagnostic reagents across the country,” Li said during a press conference.
Li informed reporters that the number of confirmed cases of the novel strain of coronavirus in China has reached 440. Nine people have died as a result of the virus, he added.
“Specialists have found that cases of the virus are mostly in Wuhan. Cases of human-to-human transmission have been detected, as has the infection of medical personnel,” Li stated.
Cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus have been reported in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States, primarily carried by those who have traveled from Wuhan. Countries around the world have stepped up screening procedures at international airports in preparation for an expected influx of Chinese tourists during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.
The World Health Organization will host an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus. Those infected reportedly display symptoms typical of pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases.