The Wuhan Coronavirus: A New Pandemic

A+member+of+the+Thai+Airways+Crew+disinfects+an+airplane+cabin+in+defense+against+the+spread+of+Coronavirus.+Credit%3A+Business+Insider.%0A

A member of the Thai Airways Crew disinfects an airplane cabin in defense against the spread of Coronavirus. Credit: Business Insider.

The new year started off with a nasty epidemic: Coronavirus.

In late December of 2019, the first case of the Coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China. A highly transmissible, respiratory disease, the virus quickly spread throughout China, and has claimed over 300 lives as of February 1st. 

Chinese officials test civilians for symptoms of the Coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Credit: usnews.com.

However, the virus itself isn’t unlike other outbreaks of disease that have occurred in the past; infected individuals experience somewhat common, flu-like symptoms such as fever and coughing. Of the 14,000 infected people worldwide, only 300 have died, giving Coronavirus a comparatively low mortality rate of 2 percent.

Despite its relatively mild symptoms, a fear of the dreaded Coronavirus has ingrained itself into society. The absence of a vaccine or antiviral treatment for the Coronavirus has added to the growing fear of contamination, and although the majority of outbreaks have involved people experiencing little to no symptoms of the disease, the virus has led to multiple instances of health complications, followed by death. 

This past Sunday, a 44 year old man died of Coronavirus in the Philippines, making his the first known death outside of China. With 14,000 Chinese citizens already infected with the Coronavirus, and the global number on the rise, Wuhan has been quarantined to prevent any further spread of the virus. 

Students in Manila, Philippines, wear protective masks in response to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Credit: The New York Times.

 “It [Coronavirus] is very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

In the United States, 11 cases of the Coronavirus have been reported, two of which were from Santa Clara County, California. In response to the recent outbreaks, the US has imposed a set of protective measures; according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, foreigners who have traveled to China in the last two weeks and aren’t immediate family members of US citizens, or permanent American residents will be temporarily banned from entering the country. 

Health officials also issued a federal quarantine order for the 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China. According to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, the group is to remain at a military base in Southern California until mid-February. The US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, has approved the use of four military bases to house 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined after returning to the U.S. from overseas travel due to concerns about the spread of the virus.

American troops in South Korea. Credit: Military Times.

The virus hasn’t just resulted in the quarantine of American civilians; the US military said that US service members in South Korea may be quarantined to stop the spread of the virus. “We are taking all appropriate measures to prevent any potential spread of the virus,” tweeted Gen. Robert Abrams, US Forces Korea commander.

A large number of major American companies such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Apple, announced that they would temporarily suspend business in China.

Despite the widespread global response to the Coronavirus, the causes of the outbreak are still unknown. Initially, medical professionals suspected the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, China. Many cases of the Coronavirus were associated with the market, which closed on January 1st. However, scientists have recently begun to suggest that snakes are the original source of the virus; both the Chinese krait and Chinese cobra have been linked to outbreaks of the disease.

The Huanan seafood market. Credit: The New York Times.

Scientist worldwide are currently attempting to pick apart the virus in search of a vaccine, but for now, the cases of the Coronavirus are on the rise as the epidemic continues to spread around the globe.