Posted on Jan 24, 2020, 5 p.m.
The first two coronavirus cases in Europe have been detected in France, and a second case has been confirmed in America as China expands its efforts to control its outbreak.
Travel bans have been put in place and extended from central China to effectively put tens of millions of people in local lockdown. The virus was first detected in Wuhan where workers are racing to build a thousand bed hospital to treat patients affected by the disease.
All around China, including in the capital Beijing authorities are cancelling all temple fairs and festivals that would accompany the Spring Festival to avoid having large public gathering which would create the perfect scenario for the airborne virus to spread further.
More than 830 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed, at least 26 people have died, and another 8,420 people are reported by be under quarantine and observation for possible infection after a cluster of pneumonia cases were reported from people who attended a seafood market in Wuhan on Dec.31.2019, ten days later the full genomic sequence of virus was made public.
A young healthy man from Wuhan has died raising concerns regarding the deadliness of the virus as up until then the vast majority of victims have been over the age of 60 with preexisting conditions.
A lockdown is being enforced across large parts of the province of Hubei affecting over 35 million estimated people. The chinese medical system is struggling to cope with the outbreak as seen in the reports of overcrowded hospitals, stressed medical workers, and dwindling supplies.
Two cases have now been confirmed in France by the French health minister, one being in the city of Bordeaux and the other in Paris, both patients were recently in China and authorities suspect that more cases will likely emerge.
There are concerns that people may be contagious with the virus even before exhibiting symptoms, and panic has spread along with the disease with most reactions being based on partial or misinformation making the matter worse. Without clear updates coming from official sources, rumors and misinformation commonly spread rapidly via sources such as social media.
“We have to get serious about the threat of coronavirus coming from China. I don’t trust Communist China to coordinate in a transparent and efficient manner,” Senator Rick Scott said in a statement. “I’m calling on the administration to declare a national public health emergency to stop the coronavirus from spreading within the United States.”
Taiwan has also confirmed its first case of the coronavirus this week, and convened a high level meeting to discuss the outbreak and called upon W.H.O not to exclude their country. “Taiwan has been on the front line of fighting previous disease outbreak in the region from SARS to swine flu,” Longman Chung, a representative of TECRO wrote in the email.
A case was recently detected in a Chinese national living in Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan; the man returned from Wuhan, was hospitalized, has recovered and been discharged. The man said that he did not visit the seafood market in Wuhan that also sells live animals and other meats, according to the CDC he may have come in contact with an infected person while there which raises the possibility of human to human transmission.
In Washington senators attended a special briefing with health officials to hear the latest developments of the outbreak. Public health authorities acted quickly in Illinois after a case emerged Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said “They identified, isolated and did contact tracing on the people with whom that person came into contact,” he said. “That’s how you get your handle on an outbreak.” But he said that he “wouldn’t be surprised if there are additional cases.”
“We are monitoring the outbreak of a novel coronavirus closely and are in close communication with United States government agencies on actions and precautions needed to prevent further spread of this virus,” the senators said. “The Chinese government has taken steps to share information with international health experts, and we encourage their cooperation and transparency as this situation unfolds,” they said. “We will continue to work closely with administration officials to ensure the United States is prepared to respond.”
American officials are assessing the extent and duration of screening travelers in the USA who have come from Wuhan at San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago airports. The lockdown in China means that fewer travelers will be arriving from there to America. A labor intensive airport screening is being conducted by the CDC, but sick patients with no symptoms may not be detected.
Martin Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine at the CDC says to help control the spread of the coronavirus resources need to be focused on state and local levels, where frontline health officials are trying to identify cases.
According to W.H.O officials are developing contingency plans for the outbreak that could very well last for months and infect thousands of people as there are still many unknowns about the novel virus, its trajectories, transmission and symptoms. What is clear is that the number of cases will rise.
The CDC has deployed a team to Chicago to help official after a woman was diagnosed with the virus. Officials expect to see more cases: “Although the outbreak is a very serious public health threat, the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
In both confirmed American cases in Seattle and Chicago the patients were not displaying any symptoms until they returned on their flights from the Wuhan area; both began to feel unwell and contacted healthcare providers right away. There may also be a case of infection in Texas.
“The Brazos County Health District said Thursday the patient traveled to Texas from Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus originated, but that they didn’t yet know their path home and if that path took them through the heavily trafficked Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport or Bush Intercontinental in Houston,” reports an NBC affiliate in Dallas, Texas.
“Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected this new coronavirus. A clinical specimen was collected and sent to CDC overnight, where laboratory testing yesterday confirmed the diagnosis,” the CDC said in an earlier statement.
Washington health officials said in a statement that the man had returned from visiting a region near Wuhan, China, he landed at Seattle’s international airport last Wednesday. Feeling ill soon after, he reached out to his healthcare provider on Sunday. In a statement, Washington state health officials said, “Human to human spread has been confirmed. How easily or sustainably this virus is spreading remains unknown.”
Early studies of the viral genome suggest a molecular similarity to SARS, the viral outbreak in 2002 that sickened over 8,000 people and killed 774. This new virus stems from a family of pathogens long thought to be relatively benign and typically causing a common cold. During the SARS outbreak it took 20 months from the time of getting the genome of the first virus to a clinical trial, it now takes around 3.5 months for other viral diseases.
According to the CDC there are currently no vaccines against the coronavirus, you may be able to reduce the risk of infection by frequently washing your hands while in public and immediately when you return home; avoid touching your person and food with unwashed hands; and avoid close contact with those that are sick.
Additionally there are no specific treatments, most will recover on their own, you may be able to relieve symptoms by using a room humidifier, drinking plenty of liquids, and staying at home to rest. It is recommended to contact a certified medical professional if you are concerned about your symptoms, especially if you have been in contact with a person infected with this novel virus.
Materials provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.