Wuhan designates hospitals for viral pneumonia treatment as cases rise

An exterior view of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, also known as the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Jan 20, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WUHAN (XINHUA) - Central China's Wuhan city has designated nine hospitals for pneumonia treatment and 61 fever clinics amid an increase in coronavirus-related pneumonia cases.

The city's health commission published a list of the hospitals and clinics on its website.

A medical expert team has been set up, with 25 members from 10 provincial and municipal hospitals, according to the health commission.

The commission confirmed on Monday (Jan 20) that 15 medical workers in the city were diagnosed with pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), plus one suspected case.

One of the 16 patients is in critical condition while the rest are in stable condition. All of them are being treated in isolation, the commission said.

The commission said local hospitals have stepped up efforts to control nosocomial infections, protect medical professionals and strengthened routine monitoring, with suspected cases receiving timely testing and treatment.

A high-level expert team of China's National Health Commission on Monday confirmed people-to-people transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and infections among medical staff.

Mr Zhong Nanshan, a renowned respiratory expert and head of the team, said two cases in Guangdong province were confirmed to be people-to-people transmission.

"The patients got infected, respectively, after their family members travelled to Wuhan and were infected by the virus," Mr Zhong said during a media interview.

He also confirmed infections among medical staff.

The novel coronavirus infection was first reported in central China's Wuhan city, where 198 viral pneumonia cases have been confirmed.

Mr Zhong said the geographical distribution of Wuhan's infection cases indicated a close relationship between the epidemic and a local seafood market.

Mr Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and a member of the expert team, said the outbreak of the new coronavirus can be reversed if measures are taken now.

He said the constant emergence of new cases at present indicated that the epidemic is still at its early stage.

Mr Zhong also predicted an increase of viral pneumonia cases during the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday. But he expressed confidence in curbing the virus spread, saying the Sars epidemic in 2003 will not be repeated.

"It took just two weeks to identify the novel coronavirus," Mr Zhong said, noting that with well-rounded monitoring and quarantine systems, China will not suffer the social and economic impact as serious as 17 years ago.

He said early discovery, diagnosis, treatment and quarantine remain the most effective method to bring the outbreak under control.

As of 6pm on Monday, a total of 224 cases of pneumonia caused by 2019-nCoV had been reported in China. Of them, 217 had been confirmed, with 14 in Guangdong province, five in Beijing and 198 in Wuhan where the first case was identified with a third death confirmed on Jan 18.

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