Chinese doctor investigating outbreak has caught the killer infection

Leading Chinese doctor investigating the coronavirus outbreak admits he has caught the killer SARS-like infection and is receiving treatment

  • Wang Guangfa was part of a team investigating how the virus emerged in Wuhan 
  • ‘I was diagnosed and my condition is fine’, he told Kong’s Cable TV today
  • Dr Guangfa did not give details on how he may have been infected

A Chinese physician who was investigating the outbreak of a mysterious new virus in central China says he has himself been infected.

Wang Guangfa, who heads the department of pulmonary medicine at Beijing’s Peking University First Hospital, was part of a team of experts that earlier this month visited Wuhan, where the virus emerged.

‘I was diagnosed and my condition is fine,’ Wang told Kong’s Cable TV on Tuesday, thanking people for their concern.

Mr Guangfa is one of the national experts that previously said the pneumonia-causing virus was under control. 

Since that day, on January 10, the death toll from the flu-like coronavirus strain has climbed to six, with the number of reported cases rising above 300.

Wang Guangfa has been infected with the new virus in China after being part of a team of doctors investigating it in Wuhan, where the virus emerged

Dr Guangfa heads the department of pulmonary medicine at Beijing’s Peking University First Hospital (pictured)

Twenty healthcare workers are among those infected, proving the virus can be transmitted between humans. 

Dr Guangfa, who conducted research on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, did not give details on how he may have been infected.

He added that he was receiving treatment, although it is not clear how the new virus is halted in patients. Dr Wang said he will have an ‘injection’ soon. 

‘I don’t want everyone to put too much attention on my condition,’ he told the channel.

Dr Guangfa told state media on January 10 that the outbreak appeared to be under control, with most patients showing mild symptoms and some having been discharged.

He could not be reached by Reuters today. 

A bout of mysterious pneumonia cases first left medics baffled at the end of December in Wuhan, a Chinese city with a population of 11million. 

In less than a month, a total of 325 people have caught the virus across Asia, including in South Korea, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan. 

Other cases have also been confirmed in cities around China, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing.

Regional governments have started to confirm cases as well, including Guangdong, Zhejiang and Henan provinces.

Suspected cases have sprung up in Australia, North Korea and Philippines in recent days. 

China’s National Health Commission revealed the unnamed infection is spread from the lungs and may travel in saliva – such as through coughs. 

It follows the confirmation that the never-before-seen SARS-like coronavirus had spread between humans. 

Professor Zhong Nanshan, leader of the National Health Commission’s expert team, revealed the virus is likely to be spread by saliva in a press conference today.

He told the meeting: ‘As of now, it is affirmative that the new strain of coronavirus can be passed between humans. 

‘The virus is spread through respiratory system and distance of impact is not long, but it is possible that the virus was passed after being stuck to saliva.’

Professor Zhong said officials must ‘quarantine the patients and stop them from contacting others’. 

China said it would attend a special WHO meeting January 22 which will determine whether to declare a rare global public health emergency over the disease.

The WHO has only called a global public health emergency a handful of times, including during the H1N1 – or swine flu – pandemic of 2009 and the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016. 

The coronavirus has caused alarm because of its genetic similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Fears grew further when Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at the National Health Commission, said that patients can contract the virus without having visited Wuhan.


December 31 2019: Total of 27 suspected cases

The WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Around 27 suspected cases were reported in the month of December.

January 1 2020: Total of 27 suspected cases

A seafood market was closed for environmental sanitation and disinfection after being closely linked with the patients.

January 5 2020: Total of 59 suspected cases

Doctors ruled out severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as being the cause of the virus, as well as bird flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome and adenovirus. Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported suspected cases.

January 9 2020: Total of 59 confirmed cases, one death

 A preliminary investigation identified the respiratory disease as a new type of coronavirus, Chinese state media reported.

Officials at Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the outbreak’s first death on January 9, a 61-year-old man.  

January 13 2020: Total of 42 confirmed cases, one death

A Chinese woman in Thailand was the first confirmed case of the mystery virus outside of China. The 61-year-old was quarantined on January 8, but has since returned home in a stable condition after having treatment, the Thai Health Ministry said. 

January 14 2020: Total of 42 confirmed cases, one death

 The WHO told hospitals around the globe to prepare, in the ‘possible’ event of the infection spreading.

It said there is some ‘limited’ human-to-human transmission of the virus. Two days previously, the UN agency said there was ‘no clear evidence of human to human transmission’.

January 16 2020: Total of 43 cases, two deaths

 A man in Tokyo is confirmed to have tested positive for the disease after travelling to the Chinese city of Wuhan.

A second death, a 69-year-old man, was reported by officials at Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. He died in the early hours of January 15 at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan city having first been admitted to hospital on December 31.

January 17 2020: Total of 44 cases, two deaths

Thailand announces it has detected a second case. The 74-year-old woman had been quarantined since her arrival on Monday. She lived in Wuhan.

Scientists at Imperial College London fear up to 4,500 patients in Wuhan may have caught the virus. A report said if cases are this high, substantial human to human transmission can’t be ruled out.

John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK), San Francisco International Airport and Los Angles International Airport (LAX) will start screening passengers arriving from Wuhan, US officials said. 

January 18 2020: Total of 48 cases, two deaths 

Thailand steps up monitoring at four airports receiving daily flights from Wuhan. Airports in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore are also screening passengers from Wuhan, authorities said.

Four more cases have been identified in a viral pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, bringing the total to 45 in the city alone. 

January 19 2020: Total of 65 cases, two deaths

China reported 17 more cases of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus strain had been found in Wuhan. It takes the city’s total to 62, including two deaths, and the global total to 65.

All of the cases to this point involved people either living in Wuhan or who have travelled to the city. 

Public Health England and Britain’s chief medical officer said they would not be introducing screenings at UK airports at this point. 

January 20 2020: Total of 222 cases, three deaths.

China reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected with a new coronavirus over the weekend, including 136 more cases in Wuhan city, taking its total to 198.

The outbreak spread across China; five cases in Beijing, 14 in Guangdong, and one in Shanghai.

South Korea confirmed its first case – a 35-year-old woman arriving at Seoul’s Incheon airport tested positive for the virus. She had been in Wuhan the week prior. This took the total cases outside China to four.

Details were not revealed about the third death. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said saving lives was a top priority, adding that information about the disease was being released in a ‘timely manner’. 

China’s National Health Commission team confirmd the virus can spread between humans.

Two patients in southern China also caught the virus from infected family members, according to local media. 

The WHO announced it would hold an emergency meeting to debate whether the outbreak should be declared an international public health emergency. 

January 21 2020: Total of 308 confirmed cases, six deaths

On this day, the death toll rose to six.

The fourth person had died on January 19, an 89-year-old man who developed symptoms, including severe breathing difficulties, on January 13.

The mayor of Wuhan announced two more victims of the lethal infection – a 66-year-old man, known only as Li, and a 48-year-old woman, known only as Yin. Both died from multiple organ failure.

Authorities also said 15 medical workers in the city were included in the confirmed cases. There is also one other suspected case. Of the infected staff, one was in critical condition.

A Brisbane man is being held in isolation over fears he may have contracted the deadly coronavirus while in Wuhan.

Queensland’s chief medical officer Dr Jeannette Young confirmed the man has been tested for the illness when he presented with flu-like symptoms after returning home. The results are still unknown.  

Australia began screening passengers arriving from a Chinese city in a bid to stop the spread, Brendan Murphy, the chief medical officer for the Australian government, said.

The Philippines also announced that it was investigating its first potential case of the coronavirus. A five-year-old child arrived in the country on January 12 from Wuhan and has since been hospitalised with flu symptoms. 

Taiwan reported its first confirmed case. Health officials announced the woman, thought to be around 50 years old, worked in Wuhan. She is currently in hospital receiving treatment, according to local media.

Stock markets in China and Hong Kong dipped today amid fears tourists will refrain from travelling. But shares in firms which make surgical face masks have surged. 

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