The Coronavirus Epidemic
The Coronavirus has been a concern of many people around the world ever since the outbreak in China in late January of this year. A new, or novel strain of the respiratory illness, called Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, has recently emerged and made its way to numerous nations internationally, including the United States. The potentially fatal sickness is still very active, making it important to be aware of and take necessary precautions with health and safety.
Coronaviruses are a group of many similar viruses including strains such as MERS, SARS, and nCoV.
WebMD.com stated that coronaviruses can range from being harmless to extremely serious, as well as, “Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but we don’t know where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape.”
All Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning able to be spread between people and animals. Also, there are some strains currently only affecting animals, not humans at all. Some common symptoms of coronaviruses are largely respiratory related, such as having a fever, shortness of breath, coughing, or other difficulties breathing. Infections can possibly lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, or death in the more severe cases. In Novel Coronavirus specifically, symptoms can appear anywhere between two and fourteen days after exposure.
Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China was where 2019-nCoV was first detected. Health officials in China have since reported thousands of infections, including person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus. It was first speculated that nCoV was just transferred from animal-to-person, because of China’s vast amount of seafood and animal markets. Later, many patients stated no exposure to the animal markets, indicating that person-to-person spread was possible. Outside of the country, transmission from person-to-person of coronavirus was also reported, including countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Spain, the UK, the US, and many more.
On January 30, 2020, after the United States identified the first confirmed person-to-person spread of coronavirus, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared an emergency of public health of international concern about the outbreak. One day after, Alex M. Azar II, the Health and Human Services Secretary declared a public health emergency for the US. Also on January 31, 2020, a presidential proclamation that suspended the entry of people who risked spreading nCoV to the United States, was signed.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the Novel Coronavirus outbreak is a grave threat to public health. They explain this on their website by stating, “The fact that this virus has caused severe illness and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning, but it’s unclear how the situation in the United States will unfold at this time.” In the near future, it is likely that more cases of nCoV will be detected.
Since there is no current vaccination to prevent and specific treatment to cure nCoV, the virus must not be exposed to other people to prevent the spread of infection.
According to the World Health Organization website, typical recommendations to prevent spread of infection are, “regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, [and] thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.” Also, avoiding sick people and cleaning objects in the house are other significant safety measures to take.
New developments with the coronavirus are still constantly happening. As of now, the death toll from nCoV is over 2000 people worldwide. Fortunately, there are many clinical trials taking place that are trying to find a treatment for the illness. Because it is still active, everyone should be doing the recommended actions to help avoid the spread of nCoV. Also, if you are interested in supporting those impacted in this situation, there are many organizations accepting donations to help. These include Direct Relief, https://www.directrelief.org/emergency/coronavirus-outbreak/, which focuses on supplying health authorities with proper protective equipment and Save the Children, https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/emergency-response/coronavirus-outbreak-facts-tips-how-to-help-protect-children, who provide assistance to children and their families.