İrem UZUN -TDO- A mysterious Sars-like virus has spread around China and fuelled anxiety about the prospect of a major outbreak in the country as millions begin travelling for Lunar New Year celebrations. The number of people infected with a new virus in China tripled over the weekend, with the outbreak spreading from Wuhan to other major cities.
Health officials have identified the infection, which first appeared in Wuhan in December, as a strain of coronavirus. They say it has led to an outbreak of viral pneumonia, but much about it remains unknown. Although the outbreak is believed to have originated from a market, officials and scientists are yet to determine exactly how it has been spreading.
There are now more than 200 cases, mostly in Wuhan, though the respiratory illness has also been detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Three people have died. Japan, Thailand and South Korea have reported cases. The reason of the sharp rise comes as millions of Chinese people travel due to Lunar New Year holiday. "Looking further on, I think we're likely to have cases around China and also there will likely be cases in other countries as people travel," Alexandra Phelan, professor of microbiology and immunology at Georgetown University told CNBC on Monday. "People's lives and health should be given top priority and the spread of the outbreak should be resolutely curbed," said President Xi Jinping, weighing in on the matter for the first time.