An outbreak of pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan

Chinese health authorities are trying to identify what is causing an outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan. There were registered 44 cases until now.

The World Health Organization said it is monitoring the situation and is in contact with the Chinese government about this. "Investigations are still being carried out and authorities cannot yet confirm what pathogen is causing this illness," said WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic. Chinese authorities say they had ruled out common respiratory diseases, such as influenza, bird flu and adenovirus infection, as the cause. Eleven of those infected were in critical condition. They added that no obvious human-to-human transmission had been seen and no medical staff had been infected.


On Friday, Singapore's health ministry said it would begin temperature screening on passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan. There were fears expressed online the virus could be linked to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. The potentially deadly, flu-like Sars virus killed more than 700 people around the world in 2002-03, after originating in China. The country has been free of Sars since May 2004. Now,  Wuhan police said eight people had been punished for "publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification".