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New Virus Linked to Outbreak in China

A new coronavirus appears to be behind the pneumonia outbreak occurring in China, Vox reports.

Dozens of people in central China, including the city of Wuhan, have fallen ill in recent weeks. According to the Wall Street Journal, there were 27 reported cases of viral pneumonia in the region by the end of December and that number has risen to 59 such cases by Sunday. It notes that the virus does not appear to be transmitted between people and instead it is thought that the affected individuals were exposed at a live animal market.

Officials in China have sequenced a sample from one patient to uncover a novel coronavirus that was then found in additional patients in Wuhan, the Journal reports. The World Health Organization cautions that this is a preliminary identification and that additional analysis is needed. 

Chinese officials were criticized following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s — which was caused by another coronavirus — for not disclosing information quickly, Vox notes. That led, the Journal says, to changes to China's disease control program that are now being tested.