March 3, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

China’s mystery virus continues to spread; China announces plan to tackle plastic waste; and the hidden deadliness of sepsis.

Welcome back to your weekly I, Science News Roundup! This week we continue coverage of the mystery virus in China as it continues to spread; China’s new plan to reduce single-use plastics; and a new report detailing just how dangerous sepsis is worldwide.

Mystery virus in China continues to spread

Following on from last weeks news that an outbreak of a virus causing pneumonia in the Chinese city Wuhan claimed its first death, the (still unknown) virus has now infected over 200 people.

Three people have now died, and cases of the disease have been found in major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

Much about the outbreak remains unknown, including how it spreads. Officials believe it originated from a market and is being passed from animal to human, but there are few specifics.

The mass migrations associated with the upcoming Lunar New Year is believed to be contributing the spread of the disease.

China to crack down on single-use plastics

China has announced a 5-year plan to majorly reduce their single-use plastics across the country after struggling to handle the amount of waste its citizens produce.

Non-degradable bags will be banned in all major cities by the end of 2020, and in the entire country by the of 2022. They will also be targeting the restaurant and hotel industries in particular – the former must reduce their use of single-use plastics by 30%, whilst hotels must phase them out by 2025.

In 2010, the country produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste, and the country’s largest waste dump has become full 25 years ahead of schedule.

Sepsis – the underestimated killer

A new report in The Lancet has shown that the current figures for the number of people in the world dying of sepsis have been grossly underestimated. They estimate that 11 million people die per year from sepsis – double the previous estimates.

The new figure also takes sepsis above cancer in terms of numbers killed annually, with most cases occurring in low and middle income countries.

Sepsis is considered a hidden killer due to how hard it is to detect. It’s the result of the immune system attacking parts of the body, and is most commonly triggered by diarrhoeal infections or lung diseases.

This week’s news was written by Harry Jenkins, who is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.