The fast-spreading coronavirus that has now killed 81 people, infected 2,700 people across China and forced authorities to put several cities under lockdown, has brought back memories of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 that affected over 8,000 people and led to 650 deaths in China and 700 across the world. The symptoms and origins of SARS and the Wuhan coronavirus may be comparable though their severity is not.
The Wuhan coronavirus was first reported by China to the World Health Organisation on December 31, 2019. The first death was announced earlier this month. The virus that was first seen in Wuhan in China's Hubei province, is called Novel Coronavirus. First cases of SARS, on the other hand, were reported from China's Guangdong province in 2003.
The 2019 coronavirus may have originated in bats but there could be an "intermediate host" in transmission to humans. SARS is believed to have spread from civet cats-small, nocturnal mammals native to tropical Asia and Africa. Both SARS and coronavirus can spread from one to person to another through close contact.
Nearly 2,700 coronavirus cases have been reported in China and there have been 81 deaths. No deaths have been reported outside China. During the SARS outbreak, there were 8,000 reported cases and over 700 people had died worldwide.
The death rate in the case of the 2019 coronavirus is 3 to per cent while the death rate from SARS was 10 per cent. Nearly 60 to 70 per cent of the genetic material of the 2019 coronavirus is same as SARS.
Since 2003, only a small number of cases of SARS have been reported due to lab accidents or though animal-to-human transmission.