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Mystery pneumonia in China may be coronavirus variant: report

A mystery viral pneumonia that has sickened dozens in China may be the result of a new type of coronavirus, Chinese researchers said Thursday.

The Associated Press reported that representatives with the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that Chinese doctors were able to sequence the gene of the virus by obtaining a sample from an infected patient.

A report was made on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, according to the AP, though public health officials in the country did not immediately verify the news.

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“Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement,” the WHO’s Gauden Galea told the AP.

Such a feat “demonstrates China’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks,” Galea added.

Nearly 60 patients have been reported with symptoms of the virus in recent weeks, many of whom were thought to have traveled to or otherwise been in the city of Wuhan, where many of the cases have been traced to a seafood market.

One possible case has also been reported in South Korea, while officials in Singapore and Hong Kong are reportedly on high alert.

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