Wuhan virus:
a visual explainer

By SCMP Graphics JANUARY 21, 2020

China has confirmed the newly identified coronavirus in Wuhan city is transmitted from person to person. With six fatalities and more than 300 confirmed cases in Asia, the Chinese authorities’ most urgent concern is to contain the outbreak as the Lunar New Year holiday rush begins.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says that as of January 21 the virus has claimed six lives and infected at least 291 people in China. The National Health Commission of China confirmed 900 people are still under medical observation. The first cases of what was then a mystery illness were reported in December in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province. The city has a population of 11 million, or more than London or New York. The virus has now spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Ground zero

The outbreak has been linked to Wuhan’s Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, which has since been closed. Weeks after the market in the city in central China became ‘ground zero’, the authorities said human-to-human transmission played a role in the outbreak.

Animal meat

Coronavirus represents a wide variety of viruses present in animals that can in certain circumstances jump to humans. Contact with meat from various animals sold in Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market has been established as the likely cause of the first reported human infections.


Wuhan as an International and domestic hub

Wuhan is an important transport link between the four cardinal points of China. Wuhan is a few hours by train to most of China’s important cities, which makes it a major hub in China’s high-speed passenger train network. The city has one of China’s top 10 economies and is a gateway to nine provinces. This has given rise to concerns that the disease could spread rapidly during the traditional mass migration of people over the Lunar New Year holidays.

Wuhan waterways

Wuhan is one of the largest intermediate ports along China’s Yangtze River with ships connecting the city to Shanghai and Chongqing. At 6,397km the Yangtze is Asia’s longest river and the third longest in the world. It is used to ship food, products and for public transport.

Cases reported across east Asia

The first cases of the virus were detected in December in people who fell sick after visited Wuhan's Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. By January 20, cases were being confirmed in distant Chinese cities like Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, along with three other Asian countries.

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