By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Researchers in China say the pathogen that caused dozens of unexplained pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei province, China has been “initially identified” as a new coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the new coronavirus was identified in a hospitalized person in Wuhan suffering from pneumonia.

China /CIA

Chinese investigators conducted gene sequencing of the virus, using an isolate from one positive patient sample.

Previously, Chinese authorities subsequently reported that laboratory tests ruled out SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, influenza, avian influenza, adenovirus and other common respiratory pathogens.

Before Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was named years ago, it was also called novel coronavirus as I reported on our sister site in 2012 and 2013.

The case count in Wuhan has not been update in several days with 59 being the most current.

WHO said the preliminary determination of a novel virus will assist authorities in other countries to conduct disease detection and response.

There are possible epidemiologic links to a large wholesale fish and live animal market in Wuhan City. Some of the patients were vendors at the Wuhan South China Seafood City (South China Seafood Wholesale Market) where, in addition to seafood, chickens, bats, marmots, and other wild animals are sold, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak. The market has been closed for cleaning and disinfection.

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Health authorities in Asia have stepped up screenings and isolated patients with flu-like symptoms who have traveled to Wuhan. Between Taiwan and Hong Kong, some 60 people have been identified.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less-severe disease, such as the common cold, and others more severe disease such as MERS and SARS. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others do not, WHO notes.