Five things to know about China Coronavirus
China is in the midst of a public health crisis as a new Coronavirus is spreading wide in the world’s most populated country. The virus is in the same family of infections as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Pharmacies in Beijing and Shanghai are running low on surgical masks and disinfectants as demands for these protective items has risen over the few weeks since the virus was first reported.
Amid worries about the causes and effects of the Coronavirus, here are the five things that we know about the widespread virus.
Form of infection
Coronaviruses are transmitted by animals and people. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans.
The Wuhan strain has been linked to a market in the city that was selling seafood and live animals, including wild species. SARS was previously linked to similar markets, particularly the sale of civet cats, a delicacy in some parts of China.
Chinese health officials have also confirmed the human-to-human transmission of the virus, raising the chance of its spread.
In one instance, 14 doctors and nurses operating on a patient unknown to be carrying the virus were all infected with it, suggesting it can be spread easily.
Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever or feeling of being unwell.
Those with weakened immune system, like the elderly and the very young, are more vulnerable to this infection.
There’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis.
These symptoms make it more even more difficult to detect those infected with the Coronavirus.
Worldwide a total of 461 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak was detected in mid-December. The true extent of the virus is unclear. A study by British researchers previously estimated the number of people infected in Wuhan alone was likely around 1,700.
However, the death toll is relatively low, and almost all cases involved elderly people with preexisting conditions: of the more than 400 confirmed cases in China, nine deaths have been reported so far, or 2.25%.
By comparison, SARS had a mortality rate of around 10% and was even more deadly among vulnerable populations. Regarding suspected cases, 715 patients have been discharged while more than 300 patients remain on medical watch.
Spread to other countries
The virus has been confirmed in other countries: United States, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
Wuhan alone has connections with more than 60 overseas destinations through its international airport, while Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, all of which have reported cases, have hundreds more.
Airports across Asia have stepped up temperature screening of incoming passengers, the same as the US, including New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
China had announced it was adopting Class A prevention and control measures, typically used for major outbreaks such as plague and cholera. In other words, health officials would have the power to lockdown affected areas and quarantine patients.
Containment efforts are being put in place in other countries. North Korea has also banned foreign tourists to guard against the spread of the new virus from China. The temporary closing of the North Korean border is expected to have begun.
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