Seafood market in China’s Wuhan shut down over pneumonia scare

Outbreak evokes frightening memories of SARS after 27 atypical pneumonia cases, 7 in critical condition

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(Pixabay image by Michal Jarmoluk)

(Pixabay image by Michal Jarmoluk)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A seafood market at the core of a respiratory illness outbreak in China's Wuhan was closed indefinitely on Wednesday (Jan. 1), one day after confirmation of multiple pneumonia cases that raised the specter of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

The enforced closure of Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (華南海鮮批發市場) was implemented in the wake of 27 atypical pneumonia cases, the cause of which is still being investigated, wrote CNA. Most of the patients have been identified as local residents doing business in the market, according to Wuhan’s health authorities.

Those who contracted the pneumonia develop a fever and have difficulty breathing, with some showing evidence of pulmonary infiltrates (a substance denser than air, such as pus, blood, or protein). Seven patients were in critical condition and quarantine measures have been put in place.

While it's thought the outbreak is due to a strain of viral pneumonia, there has been no indication of person-to-person transmission. This was identified as the main way for SARS to spread to more than two dozen countries and claim over 700 lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tighter screening measures are being carried out that target visitors from Wuhan, said Taiwan’s health authorities. Taiwan residents who have a fever or labored breathing within 10 days after returning from Wuhan are advised to seek medical treatment immediately and report the situation via the 1922 disease prevention hotline.