BEIJING: China on Sunday (Jan 5) said a mysterious viral pneumonia outbreak that has affected 59 people was not the flu-like virus SARS that killed hundreds more than a decade ago.

The infection was first reported last week in Wuhan, a central Chinese city with a population of over 11 million – leading to online speculation about a resurgence of the highly contagious SARS virus.

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"We have excluded several hypotheses, in particular the fact that it is a flu, an avian flu, an adenovirus, respiratory syndrome severe acute (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)," the Wuhan health commission said.

READ: Hong Kong steps up response to China pneumonia outbreak

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Wuhan police on Wednesday said they had punished eight people for "publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification."

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The health commission said that seven of the 59 patients are seriously ill but that none have died. All are being treated in quarantine.

The infection broke out between Dec 12 and Dec 29, with some of the patients employed at a seafood market in the city that has since been closed for disinfection.

No obvious evidence of human-to-human transmission has been found so far, it added.

"The reported link to a wholesale fish and live animal market could indicate an exposure link to animals," the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday.

The symptoms reported in patients were mainly fever, with a few patients having difficulty in breathing and chest radiographs showing invasive lesions on both lungs.

"The symptoms reported among the patients are common to several respiratory diseasesRead More – Source

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