Canada’s public health officials say they are monitoring a mysterious virus in China which has hospitalized 59 Chinese citizens so far.

At least 59 cases of “atypical pneumonia” have been seen in the city of Wuhan, Hebei since December 31. The nature of the new virus and how it spreads remains unknown. 

While no one has died, the World Health Organization says that at least 11 people are “severely ill.”

The first recorded victims were vendors at a seafood market in Wuhan. The market was shut down on January 1 by Chinese health officials but new cases continue to appear in the city. 

At least 15 new cases were recorded between December 5 and December 7.

On Tuesday, Health Canada issued a travel warning to Canadians in Wuhan. In the travel warning, the Canadian government assured the public that they are monitoring the situation.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada is actively monitoring the situation and working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international partners to gather additional information. The situation may change as new information becomes available,” Health Canada said.

While in Wuhan, Health Canada warns Canadians not to come into contact with living animals or uncooked meat.

In 2002 an outbreak of the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus originating from China killed 44 in Canada and 774 worldwide. The Chinese government says it has ruled out SARS, bird flu and influenza as the cause of the outbreak.

Ontario, where the 2002 SARS outbreak occurred, says it is also monitoring the situation.

“As the situation develops, the ministry will continue to assess and determine whether any further action is needed,” said Ontario Health Ministry spokesman David Jensen.

All 44 fatalities in the 2002 SARS outbreak were in the Greater Toronto Area.

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