New coronavirus spread between married couple

A POSSIBILITY::Only the husband worked at the Wuhan market that most cases were linked to, causing Chinese authorities not to rule out human-to-human transmission

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jan 16, 2020 - Page 2

The novel coronavirus 2019 found last month in Wuhan, China, can likely be transmitted person-to-person, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that “severe special infectious pneumonia” has been listed as a group 5 notifiable infectious disease.

The viral outbreak reported last month in Wuhan affected 41 people, and the virus was identified and named last week.

“The WHO on Tuesday said that there might have been limited human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus,” CDC Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

“Limited human-to-human transmission” generally means that people within 1m of an infected person for about 10 minutes could contract the virus, so those at risk are usually members of the same household or medical professionals treating infected patients, he said.

China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday reported that the number of patients infected with the virus remains at 41, including six with severe symptoms and one death, Chou said, adding that two infected are a married couple.

Only the husband worked at the Huanan Seafood City market in Wuhan — most of the reported cases were linked to the market — so Chinese authorities reasoned that human-to-human transmission within a household could not be ruled out, he said.

A SARS coronavirus is highly contagious with most of those infected having severe symptoms, but the virus in Wuhan is more like Middle East respiratory syndrome in terms of rate of infection and percentage with severe symptoms, Chou said.

The centers have listed severe special infectious pneumonia as a group 5 notifiable infectious disease effective immediately, CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said.

Doctors are required to report patients to the CDC if they have traveled to Wuhan in the previous 14 days, experience fever and respiratory symptoms, or were diagnosed with pneumonia, he added.

According to the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法), doctors and paramedics who fail to report a suspected case of notifiable infectious disease may face a fine of NT$90,000 to NT$450,000 (US$3,005 to US$15,025), with the healthcare facility subject to a fine of NT$300,000 to NT$2 million.