Fears of a new deadly viral outbreak have begun to spread after three people died in Argentina this week from a mysterious case of pneumonia.
Another six people have also been infected with a “pneumonia of unknown origin,” Argentina health officials reported.
Of the nine people who have been infected, eight were health workers and one was an ICU patient being treated at a private clinic in Tucumán — a small region 800 miles northwest of the capital Buenos Aires.
Health officials have expressed their mounting concerns after tests for 30 infections including COVID, flu and influenza types A and B came back negative, Tucumán health minister Luis Medina Ruiz confirmed to local news outlets Wednesday.
“What these patients have in common is the severe respiratory condition with bilateral pneumonia and compromised in [Z-ray] images very similar to COVID, but that is ruled out,” Ruiz said.
Meanwhile, the European Center for Disease Control’s epidemic intelligence team has been monitoring the cases since Tuesday and scientists at the World Health Organization have also begun tracking the situation.
“It’s obviously concerning but we still need key information on transmission and hopefully [on the] underlying cause,” professor Devi Sridhar, chair of global health at Edinburgh University and author of “Preventable: How a Pandemic Changed The World & How to Stop the Next One,” told the Telegraph.
Samples of the unknown virus have reportedly been sent for testing to the Malbran Institute in Buenos Aires and Argentina’s National Administration of Health Laboratories and Institutes.
Local officials are also examining the water and air conditioning units in the area to test for possible poisoning.
The most recent victim of the virus was a 70-year-old woman who died Thursday. She had been admitted to the clinic where the infected health professionals worked ahead of a procedure.
The elderly woman has been suspected to have been “patient zero” but Ruiz clarified that those facts are still “being evaluated.”
The first patient died Monday and the second Wednesday after all suffering from “a severe respiratory condition with bilateral pneumonia … very similar to COVID.”
The first six patients started exhibiting symptoms between Aug. 18 and 22. Officials have not said when the three most recently infected people began exhibiting symptoms but noted that two are receiving clinical treatment and one is being monitored at home.
This comes nearly two and a half years after the COVID-19 outbreak began spreading across the globe. Several other illnesses have since sparked fears of another pandemic with the US recently declaring a state of emergency over monkeypox.
With post wires