The World Health Organization has declared this a public health emergency but has refrained from calling it an epidemic of international concern.
The recent coronavirus (CoV) that originated in China in late 2019 has created an emergency-like situation in the country. It has infected 830 people and 26 have lost their lives so far, confirms the BBC. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a public health emergency but refrained from declaring it an epidemic of international concern partly because of the low number of overseas cases. "It may yet become one," said the WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The virus is believed to have been originated in the city of Wuhan which has been locked down after the death toll started climbing. The government of China has now widened the lockdown to other parts of the country as the death toll climbed to 26. The travel restrictions will affect almost 20 million people from 10 different cities, reports the BBC.
I’m not on the #WuhanCoronavirus story as a journalist this time. I’m a very concerned 武汉人 posting videos I see in chat groups. Here is a another one - the man in the video speaks with a Wuhan accent: “I’m at the Hankou Hospital... (1/2) pic.twitter.com/vRw4N4Fd67— Xinyan Yu (@xinyanyu) January 23, 2020
The lockdown comes on the eve of Lunar New Year - one of the most important dates in the Chinese calendar when millions of people travel home.
But what started as a puzzling case in China has infected hundreds of people and also taken lives. It has also started to spread in the world and the United States of America is one of the first international regions where it has already started showing signs of its existence. Officials in Washington state confirmed the first case in the US. The patient is a male in his 30s who is under observation at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, said John Wiesman, Washington's secretary of health, at a press conference, reports CNN.
Health authorities have confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in North America, after diagnosing someone in Seattle, Washington. pic.twitter.com/HcaWMnkwUr— 6ixBuzzTV (@6ixbuzztv) January 21, 2020
According to CNN, health officials have reviewed the travel history of the patient, said Dr. Chris Spitters, Snohomish Health District acting health officer on the patient's contact investigation. "As of now, there are at least 16 identified close contacts," Spitters said. "Local health departments started reaching out to them yesterday and continued doing so today." Spitters added, "The risk to the general public remains low and the public health system and our health care partners are working swiftly and collaboratively to address this situation."
Also, passengers from Wuhan to the United States either on direct or indirect flights will soon only be allowed to land at one of the five US airports.
However, the officials might need to work at a better pace because as per the latest reports, authorities in Texas are investigating a second suspected case on US soil. A college student who had recently returned from the city has started showing the symptoms of CoV. The patient had mild upper respiratory symptoms including cough and congestion. If confirmed, he will be the second patient of CoV in the US.
As the deadly virus continues to infect people in China and spreading in other parts of the world, it is important for the rest of the world to know more about it and how it could prove to be fatal.
Coronavirus is a common term for viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The WHO categorizes CoV as zoonotic which means they are transmitted from animals to humans. Although the 2019 CoV that infected humans after the consumption of seafood is now getting transmitted from humans to humans as well. This can happen when a person comes into contact with the secretions of an infected person -- such as sneezing, handshakes, cough, etc.
While the magnitude of the epidemic in China has alerted the rest of the world and health officials are taking measures to control its reach, it is advisable to be watchful and keep yourself educated about any updates related to the CoV outbreak.