Distinguishing these symptoms from seasonal influenza is challenging.
Rapidly Spreading Virus
As the death toll rises above 3,600, every news organization is scrambling to gather details about a rapidly spreading disease called 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The outbreak that began in Wuhan, China has breached continents, with cases in the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Germany, UK, Philippines, and India. Any statistics are rapidly outdated. You can try to follow the number of globally reported cases on a big-data interactive map with highest concentration within Mainland China.
A group of five infected people can spread the virus to approximately 368 people in just five infection cycles. To treat more than 80,500 infected citizens, China is constructing quick-build hospitals within days. Of the more than 107,000 cases worldwide, better than 60,000 have so far recovered. Conditions led the WHO to declare a public health emergency on January 30. As of February 24, the virus is still considered a pre-pandemic by the WHO.
The number of cases soared when China revised the method of identifying patients with the virus. There is a group of patients who only test positive very late with the nucleic acid testing. Hence, new methods, including lung scans, are confirming more cases.
By comparison, the 2014–2016 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa ended with 28,616 infections and 11,310 deaths (39.5%) reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. An additional 36 cases and 15 deaths occurred outside of these three countries, according to the CDC.
Passengers and pilots do not feel safe traveling to China because of the coronavirus. In fact, the Allied Pilots Association filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order for American Airline’s US-China flights citing the “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus.” Travel restrictions and a government-imposed extended Chinese New Year are temporarily scuttling the Asian tech industry.
⚠️ Temporary Travel Ban
February 2, 2020 – In an effort to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, the United States is temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival to the US. Restrictions also apply to US citizens who have been in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in the 2 weeks prior to their return to the US. —CNN
What Are The Symptoms?
The pneumonia-like disease officially called COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019. Chinese scientists link the coronavirus to a family of viruses that includes SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
Patients primarily present fever and cough. Other symptoms include a shortness of breath, headaches, aching muscles and confusion according to the research published in the journal The Lancet. Distinguishing these symptoms from seasonal influenza is challenging. Though vaccinations are available for the flu, nothing is currently available to prevent coronavirus. According to the CDC, “The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.”
Scientists do not yet know who is most susceptible to the 2019 novel coronavirus. General precautions include basic hygiene awareness. Wear an N95 respirator face mask in crowds if you are currently in the Hubei province. N95 respirators are designed to prevent 95 percent of small particles from entering the nose and mouth area. But the filter can impair breathing for those with the virus.
Limit contact with objects handled by many people such as handrails and doorknobs. Carry hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently. If you choose to wear gloves in public, do not rub your nose or eyes with them after touching other surfaces. Clean them daily. Limit customary public displays of affection such as greeting others with a kiss. Thoroughly wash plates and eating utensils with hot soapy water. If you receive a package from China, wipe down or wash the contents before use and safely discard packaging.
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel.
Do not panic but be cautious. Stay home from work if you are sick. Doctors are getting better at treating the symptoms. The death rate is only about 2 percent relative to the number contracting the disease. If you think you have become infected, seek urgent care. This will allow monitoring and reporting to CDC if necessary to track progression, isolate patients, and treat symptoms.
Statistics were updated on March 8, 2020 since originally published article on January 31 with 10,000 infected and 200 deaths. Link to interactive map added February 7, 2020. Additional references from CDC and WHO have been added below.
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