China's CDC releases first image of new coronavirus, shares genetic info with Japan, Thailand

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The new virus detected in China

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released the first electron microscope image of the new coronavirus that has spread fears among the Asian countries and making inroads into the US and Europe. The epicentre of the disease Wuhan city has been virtually shut down and China has cancelled the Lunar New Year celebrations and imposed restrictions in more than 11 cities.

The National Resources Bank for Pathogenic Microorganisms on Friday released the high-resolution image, which shows the virus spatial variations in chemical compositions, the gene sequence, virus separation source and the source origin to enable scientists in other countries to conduct further research.

GISAID Initiative

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Under the GISAID Initiative, China has shared image and details with Japan and Thailand. It has also provided info on genetic sequence and metadata of newly discovered coronavirus BetaCoV. The virus was first identified in last month in the city of Wuhan, where patients were suffering from respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. Since then, the virus has also been detected in Thailand and Japan.

TEM image of BetaCoV 2019-2020Image courtesy: IVDC, China CDC

The GISAID Initiative or Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, with its administrative arm Freunde of GISAID e.V., a German non-profit association, shares data with member nations including Singapore and the United States. The genome sequence of this betacoronavirus is crucial to develop specific diagnostic tests and to identify potential medical intervention options, said an official statement.

WHO stand

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After an emergency meeting on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided that the viral illness in China that has sickened 830 people will not be declared a global health emergency. The disease has affected people in South Korea, Thailand, Japan, the US, Vietnam, and Singapore so far.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a Geneva news briefing that "the focus is not so much on the numbers, which we know will go up. It's still too early to draw conclusions on how severe the virus is."

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