- Epidemic is ongoing in Wuhan and further spread is almost certain, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says
- Over half of patients assessed had no contact with people already infected or the seafood market where the outbreak was discovered
The coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan has become a full-blown community epidemic, Chinese health authorities have said.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its latest report that over half of the 198 infected people it surveyed had never been to the seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that linked the first reported cases, nor had those people had contact with infected patients.
"Transmission within communities is believed to be taking place in Wuhan," the report said. Its assessment "indicated that the epidemic is ongoing in Wuhan and that further spread is almost certain", it said.
Community outbreak is a stage of disease in which an epidemic has expanded from transmission within families and hospitals, and spread in a community on a much larger scale.
The epidemiological investigation found that 51 per cent of patients studied had neither visited Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market nor had contact with infected patients, the CDC said.
Only 22 per cent had direct exposure to the market, and 32 per cent had contact with other people showing fever or respiratory symptoms, it found.
Tracking coronavirus a 'jigsaw puzzle' as China goes into quarantine mode
The CDC said that another health care worker was suspected to be infected, in addition to the 15 already confirmed in Wuhan.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Li Bin, director of the National Health Commission, said community outbreaks had been found in only "certain areas of the city".
By midnight on Wednesday, the coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organisation, had caused 17 deaths " all in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital. There had been 444 cases in Hubei among the mainland's total of 571 confirmed cases.
Cases also have been confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan and the United States.
The Chinese government issued travel restrictions on people leaving Wuhan on Thursday morning.
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