As the number of deaths from COVID-19 exceed more than half half a million people and cases of the coronavirus pass 10 million, researchers in China have discovered a new type of swine flu in pigs that can be caught by humans.
Named G4, the strain of swine flu is genetically descended from the H1N1 swine flu that caused a pandemic and lasted for about 19 months, from January 2009 to August 2010. G4 can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways. It has been found recently in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.
“Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses,” Professor Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University, UK, told the BBC.
“We should not ignore it,” added the scientist. Professor Kin-Chow Chang is part of a team of researchers who outlined in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a need to measure and control the virus in pigs as well as monitor working populations.
The sobering warning came as the United Nations’ agency, the World Health Organization, warned that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which began six months ago, was “yet to come”.
WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the coronavirus would infect many more people if governments did not start to implement the right policies.
His message remained “Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine”, he said.
Half the world’s cases of coronavirus have been in the US and Europe. Cases of COVID-19 are rapidly growing in the Americas and is also badly affecting South Asia and Africa, where it is not expected to peak until the end of July.
“We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over,” Dr Tedros said.
“Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) June 29, 2020