Coronaviruses are actually a type of virus, and there are many different kinds, some of which cause harmful disease. The newly identified type due to a recent outbreak, the 2019 novel coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that started in China. The spread of the new coronavirus (also called 2019-nCoV), is being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other health organizations like Johns Hopkins across the globe. As of January 30th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency.
The 2019 novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and health officials believe it may be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China. It is reported that some people who visited the market came down with pneumonia caused by coronavirus. However, a study was released January 25, 2020 stating that the person with the first reported case of coronavirus had no link to the seafood market where wild animals were on sale & in contact with people, and became ill December 1, 2019.
It is believed by many to have originally come from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person affecting many throughout China and two dozen other countries including the United States. However, the animal source it may be has not been pinpointed yet, but Chinese scientists believe it may have been a bat.
The transmission of the virus person to person usually happens in close contact (about 6 feet), and is believed to transpire through respiratory droplets created when one with the virus coughs or sneezes. Basically, the spreading of this virus is equivalent to how influenza and other respiratory germs are spread.
Most often with respiratory viruses, people are the most contagious when they are the sickest, but with the 2019 novel coronavirus, there have been reports of the virus being spread from an infected patient with no symptoms at all to someone in close contact. It is vital to note that how easily coronavirus can spread can vary by the individual. Although investigations are ongoing, it is still unclear how the virus originated and spread.
Currently, it appears symptoms of coronavirus show up in people within as little as 2 days and as much as 14 days after exposure to the virus causing viral pneumonia.
2019 Novel coronavirus symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- In rare/severe cases, can lead to respiratory problems, kidney failure, or death
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) makes several suggestions as far as avoiding coronavirus from spreading to you. Many of these suggestions are common sense, but are nonetheless good reminders to be sure we’re keeping healthy as possible with the growing number of cases being reported every day.
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away
- Clean and disinfect surfaces/objects people are frequently in contact with
- Wash your hands frequently, and use alcohol based sanitizer if/when soap and water aren’t available
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
Unfortunately, as of January 30, 2020, there have been 361 deaths reported that have been attributed to the coronavirus. Be mindful of symptoms, and all suggestions from the CDC.
Coronavirus in the U.S.
How is coronavirus affecting the United States? As of Sunday, February 2, 2020 there were three more cases, all in California, reported bringing the total number of people affected to 11.
Under the orders of the Health and Human Services Secretary, foreign nationals who traveled to China in the last two weeks & aren’t immediate family members of United States citizens or permanent residents will be temporarily banned from entering the United States due to the declaration of public health emergency last week. Additionally, anyone who was in China’s Hubei province in the last two weeks will also be subject to a two week quarantine.
There were 195 Americans that were the first to be evacuated from Wuhan, where the outbreak occurred, and they are under federal quarantine & will remain on a military base in California until mid-February. Reportedly, the government has not issued such a quarantine in over 50 years.
Lastly, on January 31, 2020, the White House Task Force for the 2019 novel coronavirus announced at a press conference that new travel policies will be implemented beginning at 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on February 2, 2020.
Coronavirus & the CDC Response
The Centers for Disease Control is working closely with the Whole Health Organization as well as state and local health partners closely monitoring the progress of the coronavirus to respond to the public health threat in the United States.
The CDC has responded in some of the following ways:
- On January 21, 2020, the CDC put its Emergency Operations Center into action to provide ongoing support to the coronavirus response.
- On January 27, 2020, the CDC issues travel guidance for China, stating to travelers to avoid traveling to any part of the country if not essential.
- The CDC uploaded the entire genome of the virus from five reported cases in the United States to GenBank.
- The CDC is growing the virus in a cell culture, which is essential for future studies.
- The CDC has developed a test that can diagnose the 2019 novel coronavirus in respiratory and serum samples, and on January 24, 2020, they publicly posted the assay protocol for the test.
If you could like a complete list of everything the CDC is doing in an effort to keep coronavirus at bay here in the United States, and for updates on the progress of the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control to learn more.
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019 nCoV)
According to the Whole Health Organization, as of Monday, February 3, 2020, there are 17,205 confirmed cases in two dozen countries, the majority being from China. Analyses have emerged suggesting that this virus came from a virus related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and there are ongoing tests to learn more about this quickly evolving virus. According to CNN, the number of coronavirus deaths in mainland China has overtaken the 2003 SARS epidemic, where 349 people died in a 9-month period. This past weekend was also the first death due to the virus outside of China in the Philippines. International researchers are racing to develop a vaccine & halt the spread of the virus, and while there is action being taken, there is still a lot of information on the 2019 novel coronavirus that is still unknown, including how contagious it may be.
UPDATE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that as of Monday, February 10, 2020, there are now 13 cases in the United States. The most recent one was detected in California with a patient who was under federal quarantine, and the CDC is conducting a thorough investigation on any contacts the person may have had to see if they are high risk exposures.
Additionally, the death toll nationwide as of this morning February 12, 2020, is now at 1,100 people and infected over 45,000 people; the majority in mainland China. Scientists also have a name for the virus now and that is Covid-19, and the virus that causes it is SARS-CoV-2.