Boston doctor warns about coronavirus outbreak in China

Doctors warn about spread of coronavirus in China

BOSTON — The chief doctor of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is sending out a warning about the coronavirus which is spreading fast in China.

And, with the Chinese New Year, and millions of people traveling, doctors in Boston want you to be aware.

Chinese health officials are working to contain the new outbreak of coronavirus, a form of viral pneumonia.

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Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes described symptoms of the virus.

“They might have fever, aches and pains,” said Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a Harvard professor.

The outbreak started last month in Wuhan, China, at a seafood wildlife market.

Coronavirus typically infects animals, like camels and bats, and small animals. Periodically, it causes human disease, like SARS, and a coronavirus epidemic.

It has infected at least 200 people. Patients reported having a fever, shortness of breath and coughing. Since the outbreak started, it has now spread to South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

“It seems the vast majority of cases have occurred with some contact with one of two seafood markets. The seafood market also sell lots of other kinds animals, like bats and are carriers of coronavirus,” Kuritzkes said.

The outbreak comes during the busiest time of the year, as millions are traveling across China and overseas for the Chinese New Year.

“They should stay away from animal markets, and live or dead animals. If there are people with respiratory illness, try to minimize contact with them as well,” Kuritzkes said.

Federal health officials have even started screening passengers across the country who are arriving from China.

Some passengers are asked how they’re feeling, and they get their temperatures taken.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting, trying to figure out how to stop this virus from spreading.

Wuhan health authorities said Monday an additional 136 cases have been confirmed in the city, raising the total to 198. Three have died.

Other Chinese cities also confirmed cases for the first time.

Coronaviruses cause diseases ranging from the common cold to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS first infected people in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800. The Chinese government initially tried to conceal the severity of the SARS epidemic, but its cover-up was exposed by a high-ranking physician.

“In the early days of SARS, reports were delayed and covered up,” said an editorial in the nationalistic Global Times. “That kind of thing must not happen again in China.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.