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WHO Investigates Mysterious Respiratory Illness ‘Very Similar to Covid’ in Argentina After Three Deaths and Six Ill

At least nine patients at a private clinic in northern Argentina this week have fallen ill due to “pneumonia with unknown origin,” prompting an investigation by health authorities and the World Health Organization.

“On 30 August 2022, the Ministry of Health of Argentina informed to the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) of the notification by the Ministry of Public Health of Tucumán Province, on the detection of a cluster of 6 cases of bilateral pneumonia in six patients without etiological identification so far,” PAHO said in a news release.

In the city of San Miguel de Tucumán, there have been six confirmed cases: five healthcare providers and one patient receiving intensive care at a private clinic.

Fever, myalgia, stomach pain, and dyspnea were observed at the onset of symptoms between August 18 and 22. Two of the six patients who came with bilateral pneumonia passed away, three are hospitalized, and one is recovering at home in isolation.

“On 1 September 2022, the Ministry of Public Health of Tucuman3 reported 3 additional patients, all health care workers, with onset of symptom between 20 and 23 August, presenting similar symptoms compared to the 6 cases reported previously,” PAHO added.

Those involved are all linked with the same healthcare center in Tucumán.

In total, 9 cases, including 3 deaths, have been linked to this mysterious illness. Preliminary investigation indicates that the fatal cases had comorbidities. 

There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission at this time, according to Hector Sale, president of the Tucuman provincial medical college

“What these patients have in common is the severe respiratory condition with bilateral pneumonia and compromise in images [x-ray] very similar to Covid, but that is ruled out, as has cold, influenza of both types A + and B +, Hantavirus and 25 other germs,” said Luis Medina Ruiz, the minister of public health of the Tucumán province.

“It is very similar to Covid, hantavirus; it can be viruses or bacteria,” said the director of the epidemiology of the provincial health system, Dr. Rogelio Calli.

Scientists from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Control are apparently keeping an eye on the situation in Argentina.

UK Government is now on high alert.

“We are aware of an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown origin in Argentina,” Dr. Katherine Russell, Head of Emerging Infections and Zoonoses at UKHSA, told the Daily Star exclusively.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely as further information becomes available through the investigations by Argentina’s health authorities.”

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