First things first: what is the Wuhan virus?

Wuhan virus, also known as 2019-nCoV, is a type of coronavirus that causes pneumonia in its victims.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, cough and breathing difficulties. The virus has been found to be asymptomatic, which means although a person may not be displaying the symptoms, they can also infect others. The incubation period varies according to individuals, ranging between one and 14 days.

To date, it has infected 7,711 people, mostly from China, and has resulted in 170 deaths (updated figures as of Jan 30, 9.20am). In comparison, Sars infected 5,327 people in China and resulted in 349 deaths.

It was first thought to have stemmed from a seafood market in Wuhan.

China first alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the outbreak on December 31, 2019. The following day, the seafood market was closed down.

China recorded its first death from the virus on January 11. A few days later, China’s health commission said no human-to-human transmission has been confirmed, but didn’t rule the possibility. On Jan 20, it was confirmed that human-to-human transmission was possible.


On Jan 23, Wuhan, and later more than 20 cities in Hubei, were placed in a lockdown—which means the residents and visitors could not leave or enter the cities.

The government subsequently banned wildlife markets temporarily following the spread of the virus.

The virus, which is suspected to have been passed from animals to humans, was initially thought to have originated from bats or snakes in the seafood market, but recent research showed that 13 out of the first 41 hospitalised cases had no link to the market.

Currently, there is no cure for the virus. While pharmaceutical companies are working on developing vaccine for the virus, experts say it might take years.

Meanwhile, Dr Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at China’s National Health Commission, told the official Xinhua news agency that the virus might peak in 10 days.

Here’s what’s happening in Singapore.

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Text: Adeline Leong, Timothy Goh, Chang Ai-Lien, Salma Khalik, Benson Ang, Tee Zhuo, Malavika Menon, Toh Ting Wei, Danson Cheong / The Straits Times / January, February 2020, Hidayah Idris