Today, the balance sheet regarding Coronavirus cases looks like this:
- 28,349 infected with the virus
- of which 3,863 (14%) are in critical condition
- 565 deaths
- 1,387 recovered
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that affect the respiratory system, causing illness that looks like a common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is said that most people get infected with this virus at some point in their lives, but the symptoms are most of the time mild to moderate. This virus can cause lower-respiratory tract illness that may feel like pneumonia or bronchitis.
Coronaviruses are common amongst animals worldwide, but only a tiny part of them are known to affect humans. It doesn’t happen very often for coronaviruses to evolve and transmit from animals to humans. This is what has happened with the new coronavirus, known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-Cov), both can cause severe symptoms.
Where did the new coronavirus come from?
Researchers and officials assumed that this virus was transmitted from animals to humans, since it first popped up in Wuhan, in people who visited a local seafood and animal market, called the Huanan seafood market. However, a new study compared the 2019 coronaviruses genetic sequence with those in a library of viral sequences and found that the closest related viruses were two types of coronaviruses found in bats. Both of those coronaviruses had 88% of their genetic sequence in common with that of 2019 coronaviruses.
Based on these results, researchers said that the 2019 coronavirus most likely originated in bats. The thing is, there weren’t any bats for sale at the Huanan seafood market, so there must be another yet-to-be-identified animal that transmits the virus to humans.
There were many studies that suggested snakes as a possible source of coronaviruses. However, it isn’t known for sure yet, many researchers have criticized the study, saying that it isn’t clear if coronaviruses can infect snakes.
How does the coronavirus spread between people?
On the 30th of January, the CDC identified the first coronavirus victim in the United States. By the beginning of February, there were many cases involving individuals who haven’t recently traveled to China confirmed in: the U.S., Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, and France, according to the New York Times.
The virus can spread extremely fast, The CDC says that you are most likely to contract it if you come in contact with an infected person through:
- close personal contact like touching or shaking hands
- the air, if an infected person sneezes near you
- touching an object or a surface and then touching your face, nose or eyes without washing your hands
- fecal contamination
How can people protect themselves and others?
The best way to prevent infection with the 2019-nCoV is to avoid crowded places that expose you to the virus, according to the CDC. In general, the CDC recommends following some simple steps to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty or unwashed hands; avoid contact with sick people; stay home when you feel sick and make sure to disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
If you must travel to China, try to avoid direct contact with sick people, avoid animals (dead or alive) as well as animal markets, or products that come from animals, like uncooked meat.
People who visited China recently, and have symptoms like fever, cough or difficulty breathing within the first two weeks, must seek medical care right away and don’t forget to inform the medical staff about your recent travel, says the CDC.
NUMBER OF CORONAVIRUS CASES
- China: 28,085
- Thailand: 25
- Japan: 22
- Singapore: 24
- Hong Kong: 21
- South Korea: 16
- Taiwan: 11
- Australia: 13
- Malaysia: 10
- Germany: 12
- Macau: 10
- U.S.: 11
- France: 6
- United Arab Emirates: 5
- Canada: 4
- Italy: 2
- Russia: 2
- UK: 2
- Vietnam: 8
- Cambodia: 1
- Finland: 1
- India: 3
- Nepal: 1
- Philippines: 2
- Spain: 1
- Sri Lanka: 1
- Sweden: 1