Debate on the Origin of the Coronavirus

The coronavirus that has emerged in China is being closely monitored by the authorities. The death toll currently stands at 26, while the precise source of the virus remains unknown.

Coronavirus virions, vector of severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS. (Public Domain)

As the death toll from the epidemic caused by a mysterious coronavirus grows, China is now tightening its security and quarantine measures. At present, the Chinese authorities are reported to have recorded 26 deaths (two of them outside the area where the epidemic originated, including the city of Wuhan) and 830 people infected with this SARS-like virus on its territory. As a result, the government has placed 13 municipalities in the country under quarantine – representing 40 million people forced to remain in their homes until further notice. It has also prohibited its travel agencies from selling packages for domestic or international travel. In addition, several accesses to national monuments are now closed: several sections of the Great Wall of China, the Ming Tomb and the Pagoda Forest. In Shanghai, then on the eve of the Chinese New Year, the Disneyland amusement park closed its doors.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled that it was too early to issue an international alert. Nevertheless, it advocated the “short-term” confinement of millions of Chinese. “This is not yet a global health emergency, but it could become one,” said Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. In addition to numerous quarantines, China responded by urgently building a hospital for people infected with coronavirus. More than 15 cases of proven infection have been reported outside China. In France, a Chinese woman who recently arrived from Wuhan, the focus of the outbreak, and who was showing flu-like symptoms was reportedly observed by French medical services. According to a Press Release from the Chinese embassy in Paris, spotted by La Voix du Nord, this person indicated that he no longer had any symptoms of fever or pain and therefore had not been prescribed any further tests. The last flight from Wuhan landed at Roissy airport. No traveller would have shown any symptoms related to the worrying virus. Health Minister Agnès Buzin said that no “doubtful cases” had been identified in France. She reminds us that “the emergency services are on alert. »

Debate on the origin of the virus

The coronavirus currently at the centre of this epidemic has been officially named “2019-nCoV” by the WHO. If its human-to-human transmission is confirmed, its original source remains a mystery for the moment. The virus is believed to have originated from an animal sold on the Wuhan market, probably “a bird or mammal” according to statements by scientists in the journal Nature. This hypothesis was published in response to information from Chinese scientists. Analysis of initial samples of the virus suggested that its main vector could be a snake – Bungarus multicinctus (or striped Bongare) or Naja atra (or Chinese Cobra). However, they would have provided no evidence of coronavirus transmission in these animals. A majority of researchers prefer to continue analyses and comparisons before concluding on the precise nature of the virus. The closest track could be the fruit bats (Rhinolophus sp. ), which are known to carry the SARS virus.





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