Coronavirus Hits the World
On December 31st 2019 The People’s Republic of China alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new, emerging disease that was spreading in the port city of Wuhan. At this point little was known about the disease other than that it resembled pneumonia and that some of the infected worked in a seafood wholesale market that was shut down the next day. By the end of the week, doctors had reported over 40 cases. Aljazeera reported that the Chinese Government ruled out the possibility of the disease being a resurgence of SARS, acute respiratory syndrome, that killed over 700 people in 2002-2003. It was not until January 7th that the WHO identified the virus and named it 2019-nCoV, which is part of the Coronavirus family of which SARS is a part of. Since then there have been 811 and 37,198 infections making it more deadly than the SARS outbreak.
Over the last two months, the Chinese government has set up ever more restricting quarantines in the Wuhan area. With the completion of over 50 new facilities, the government has widened its quarantine to the surrounding area. Internationally, the virus has spread to several countries including Japan, The United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and several more.
The United States evacuated its embassy staff and their families several weeks ago and just recently sent more planes to evacuate remaining citizens. Those evacuated reportedly are required to spend several days on the bases they land in to confirm they are carrying the virus. The waiting period is vital as symptoms can take up to 14 days to express themselves according to the WHO.
One concern with the virus that is not entirely health-related is mass hysteria. The worry is that widespread panic will make it more difficult to investigate the disease as well as cause greater divides between groups. Republican Senator Tom Cotton suggested in a statement that 2019-nCoV could have come from a Chinese “superlabrotory” according to Business Insider.
Like the common cold, 2019-nCoV spreads through breathing in particles from an infected person’s breath or cough as well as touching a surface that an infected person has breathed or coughed on and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. Experts urge people to maintain good sanitary habits such as hand washing and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough.