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China versus SARS

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On 16 November 2002, a case of atypical pneumonia appeared in the city of Foshan, southeast of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, southeastern China. The spread of the disease accelerated gradually in China, but by 1 July 2003, seven and a half months later, it had reached 30 countries and sickened 8,439 people of whom 812 died, giving a 10% mortality rate. Medical personnel had been unprepared and had not understood the ease of person to person transmission of the disease: 21% of all cases were among healthcare workers.2 In March 2003, the causative pathogen was identified as a bat coronavirus and named SARS-CoV, and in May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the virus had been identified in the masked palm civet, which is eaten as a delicacy in southeastern China, as the presumptive intermediate host.

Originally published in the June 2021 edition of CBRNe World.

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