Wuhan virus: Chinese doctor investigating outbreak says he was infected

Medical staff transfer patients to Jinyintan hospital where patients infected with a new strain of coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are treated, on Jan 20, 2020.
Medical staff transfer patients to Jinyintan hospital where patients infected with a new strain of coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are treated, on Jan 20, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A Chinese physician who was investigating the outbreak of a mysterious new virus in central China says he has himself been infected.

Dr Wang Guangfa, who heads the Department of Pulmonary Medicine at Beijing's Peking University First Hospital, was part of a team of experts that earlier this month visited Wuhan, where the virus emerged.

Chinese state television reported on Wednesday (Jan 22) morning that Dr Wang had been in treatment in isolation since Tuesday, suspected of being infected by the new coronavirus.

"I was diagnosed and my condition is fine," Dr Wang told Hong Kong's Cable TV on Tuesday (Jan 21), thanking people for their concern.

The death toll from the flu-like coronavirus strain, which officials have confirmed can be transmitted between humans, climbed to six as of Tuesday, with the number of reported cases rising above 300. Fifteen medical personnel are among those infected.

Dr Wang, who conducted research on severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in 2003, said he was receiving treatment and would receive an injection soon. He did not give details on how he may have been infected.

"I don't want everyone to put too much attention on my condition," he told the channel.

He told state media on Jan 10 that the outbreak appeared to be under control, with most patients showing mild symptoms and some having been discharged.

He could not be reached by Reuters on Tuesday.