31 Jan What is the Wuhan Coronavirus and how do we Protect Ourselves?
The novel Coronavirus, known as the Wuhan Coronavirus, which tests confirm began at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, is a member of the coronavirus family, which includes the Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers), that has never been encountered before (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/30/what-is-coronavirus-symptoms-from-wuhan-china-and-how-worried-should-we-be-sars).
The death toll of the coronavirus outbreak sweeping China, as of 30th January 2020, has reached at least 213, with more than 9,700 people infected (https://www.businessinsider.com/china-virus-everything-we-know-deadly-2019-ncov-wuhan-spread-2020-1).
Cases have spread to every province and region in China as well at least 19 other countries. The total number of cases has surpassed the global case count recorded during the 2003 SARS outbreak.
Outside of China, cases have been reported in Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the US, Vietnam, and more recently, in the UK, where two people have tested positive today, on 31st January 2020, for coronavirus (https://www.ft.com/content/96bd61c2-226f-31f4-99fa-02cb85c42bf2).
The World Health Organization (WHO) convened for the second time, on Thursday 30th January 2020, and declared the virus a global health emergency, as it is a “public health emergency of international concern” (https://www.businessinsider.com/who-wuhan-coronavirus-2019-ncov-global-health-emergency-2020-1).
It should be noted that Russia ordered the closure of the country’s border with China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and the US State Department urges against travel to China (https://www.ft.com/content/75adafb6-4306-11ea-abea-0c7a29cd66fe) (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/30/world/asia/coronavirus-china.html).
The predominant symptom caused by the Wuhan coronavirus is pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties, and in severe cases there can be organ failure.
Due to the fact that this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use, and recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died are known to have been already in poor health (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/30/what-is-coronavirus-symptoms-from-wuhan-china-and-how-worried-should-we-be-sars).
The WHO recommends various hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices to protect ourselves from this virus. These include to frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, throw tissue away immediately and wash hands, when coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue, and to avoid contact with anyone who has fever and cough (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public).
The international organization also advises to seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Additionally, it advises to avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals, when visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of the novel coronavirus, and the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per food safety practices.
Although there is currently no cure nor vaccine for the coronavirus, research for a vaccine to help stem this outbreak got under way within hours of the virus being identified, unlike in many previous outbreaks, where vaccines to protect people have taken years to develop.