Coronavirus –Should We Be Worried?

 In Foreign, Science

Media headlines are screaming about the latest disease spreading through the world: the Wuhan Coronavirus.  Is it becoming a pandemic? Are millions going to die?  Let’s cut to the facts before we buy into the media fear mongering.

The Coronavirus was first discovered in China’s city of Wuhan in December. It’s a “novel” virus- which simply means it’s new.

CDC map showing current outbreaks (Canada and other countries are now on the list)

Now as you look at the map, realize that the United States has 5 confirmed cases so far – Seattle, Orange County CA, Irvine, CA,  Arizona, and Chicago. There are 50 other cases being tested at this time, and all patients are under observation, along with any contacts they have made. The patients are all listed as stable at this time.

For the most part, it acts much like pneumonia with symptoms that range from a common cold to severe respiratory issues.

How did it start?

Most experts say that the Wuhan coronavirus (dubbed 2019-nCOV) began with persons contacting wildlife at Chinese markets. In specific, eating bats or snakes – animal to human transmission. From there it has spread by human to human contact.

Symptoms

The symptoms can be mild to severe- cough, shortness of breath, and fever, according to the CDC. MERS viruses, SARS, these are similar viruses, and can spread between people. There is no evidence at this time that the virus is airborne.

Can it be stopped?

Authorities in China have literally locked down millions of people to stop the spread of the virus. Nearly every province in China reportedly has a case. But because of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, at least 5 million people left the city of Wuhan before the lockdown occurred.

China, United States, France, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Nepal, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, and Canada currently have cases of the virus.

Chinese schools in Hong Kong are closed temporarily until Feb 17, celebrations have been put on hold. Protests continue, though not at the pace prior to the outbreak.

At this time, the virus killed 56 people in China, and infected over 2,000 more, according to the South China Morning Post. The Chinese government, in its most ruthless management of any crisis, is being accused of burning houses down instead of disinfecting them:

Translation: #Wuhan : The Chinese government is now burning infected houses instead of disinfecting them. #coronavirus#coronarovirus”

The United States arranged for a special flight to evacuate Americans in Wuhan, as did France.

The strange eating habits of some countries are a factor in the diseases encountered these days (example: Ebola and eating monkeys). There are also questions concerning who owns patents on some viruses, although the current coronavirus is NOT the same as the patents being shared on social media on the Wuhan virus. They are from older viruses such as SARS and MERS: same family, different strain.

Why would anyone hold a patent on any virus? To find a cure, ostensibly. Testing for vaccines. At least that’s the idea, whether or not everything is as altruistic as that is probably debateable.

The bottom line is: don’t panic. The US has extremely good healthcare (contrary to the Democrats complaints), and just like the Ebola scare a few years ago, we’ll weather this as well.  Going to China? Not recommended right now. The virus is still mutating.

Featured photo: Chinese military (PLA) called in to bring resources to local hospitals. Twitter photo.

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