Jan 22, 2020 08:59 UTC
  • Mystery virus can mutate, China says, as countries move to prevent spread

China has warned a new virus that has infected hundreds of people across the country can mutate, as world countries take screening measures for travelers to prevent a global pandemic.

According to Press TV, health officials said Wednesday that it was clear “this virus is adapting and mutating.”

National Health Commission Vice Minister Li Bin said at a news conference there “is the possibility of viral mutation and further spread of the disease.”

The virus, which has so far killed nine people in China, originated in the central city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million people, late last year, and has now infected more than 400 people in 13 Chinese provinces and municipalities, including in Beijing and Shanghai.

After it was confirmed that the virus is able to spread from humans to humans, officials in Wuhan called on people to avoid the city. They also cancelled a major Lunar New Year event to contain the outbreak of the illness.

Hundreds of millions of people are traveling in packed trains, planes, and buses across China for the holiday, which starts on Friday.

Wuhan’s Mayor Zhou Xianwang urged residents not to leave the city so that the possibility of transmission could be reduced.

“If it’s not necessary, we suggest that people don’t come to Wuhan,” Zhou also said.

Meanwhile, the National Health Commission announced measures to curb the spread of the virus, including disinfection and ventilation at airports and bus stations as well as inside planes and trains.

Police are also conducting spot checks for live poultry or wild animals in vehicles exiting and entering Wuhan.

Authorities set up fever scanners at Wuhan’s train station and airport to check the temperature of people.

The government has classified the outbreak in the same category as the SARS epidemic. That necessitates compulsory isolation for those diagnosed with the disease.