The majority of Wesleyan’s community and population have recognized the deadly virus spreading worldwide, but how much do you really know about the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus is a respiratory illness that originated from Wuhan, China and is beginning to spread to other countries. As of now, the tens of thousands infected by the virus and the majority of deaths have been in China. The New York Times said, “In late January, The World Health Organization (WHO) officials said that about 20 percent of reported patients in China had developed severe illness, including respiratory failure and pneumonia, and that about 2 percent had died.” The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has reported that they are closely monitoring the outbreak. In China, there have been more than 1,100 deaths and 44,000 reports confirmed with infection of the coronavirus. According to the CDC, “On Jan. 30, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’”
The WHO confirms that the new “novel” coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a variety of viruses that were originally transmitted between animals and humans. Wesleyan high school science teacher Beth McConnell was asked what she has heard in regards to the coronavirus. McConnell said, “It is transmitted from animals to people. It is a respiratory virus, meaning it causes pneumonia-like symptoms.”
Concerning common symptoms of the coronavirus, the WHO said, “Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.” The respiratory virus can also spread through contact of somebody infected. It can be transmitted within six feet of someone infected by them producing droplets, from sneezing to coughing. The common signs of the infection are a typical cold and can lead to two different kinds of beta coronaviruses, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.)
MERS and SARS have now been added into the coronavirus family. These viruses are commonly found in animals, specifically camels, cats, cattle and bats. Although numerous people have heard about the outbreak and its ongoing affects, they do not know exactly where the disease originated. The outbreak of the respiratory virus was originally caused by the association with a large sea food and live animal market in Wuhan, China. After hearing that some patients had never attended the market, doctors realized that the virus became a person-to-person epidemic. China authorities reported the 2019-nCOV to be a person-to-person disease that has spread through China.
The disease has spread farther than just China, so it now travels internationally. The White House released a statement. It said, “As of Jan. 31, Chinese health officials have reported approximately 10,000 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in China. An additional 114 cases have been confirmed across 22 other countries; in several of these cases, the infected individuals had not visited China. More than 200 people have died from the virus, all in China.”
The New York Times said, “The United States is barring entry by most foreign nationals who have recently visited China. Americans returning from Wuhan and Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, are to be quarantined for two weeks.” The State Department warns America to avoid traveling to China, and many airlines have proceeded to cancel any flights to and from China. The White House reported that the CDC has confirmed two people infected with the coronavirus in the United States. This makes the coronavirus the first person-to-person virus to ever exist in the U.S.
Wesleyan lower school nurse Becky Kimsey said, “The main symptom they are seeing is fever. Initially symptoms are not that bad, but then quickly progress. People under investigation (PUI’s) has been the common name designated to those infected. The biggest thing to do right now is isolate them.” Globally, there are locations that have confirmed 2019-nCOV cases. On Feb. 10, the CDC reports 37 states and territories with PUI’s. There are 12 positive, 318 negative and 68 pending PUI’s within the United States.
As of now, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus, but according to the CDC, there are ways to prevent becoming exposed. The use of a face mask helps protect those already infected to not spread and prevent putting anyone else at risk. It is highly recommended that people engaging or helping, such as health doctors, wear face masks, try to avoid contact with anyone exposed to virus, wash hands, clean and sterilize as often as possible, avoid touching your eyes or face in general and cover coughing or sneezing.
The new virus is spreading rapidly and has led to many new cases. One of the most recent cases is the Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier in Yokohama, Japan. The New York Times said, “Japan’s health ministry said that an additional 65 people had tested positive for the virus, nearly doubling the total to 135. According to Princess Cruises, which operates the ship, at least 20 of them are American. The ship already has the largest number of coronavirus cases outside the epicenter in China, where more than 40,000 have been infected. Under a two-week quarantine in the port of Yokohama since Feb. 4, the Diamond Princess is now a floating, mini-version of Wuhan, China…” There is no clarification on the total number of people infected because Japan authorities do not have enough testing materials to finish medical tests.
After researching and discovering how the novel illness has impacted so many worldwide, it is safe to say that most populations know about the pandemic in some way or another. Science teacher Megan Trotter was asked what she thinks about students, teachers and people in general being correctly educated about the coronavirus. Trotter said, “I think we are not educated enough and more driven by fear without knowing about it. It can be desensitized by students but it’s a real threat in other places.” Kimsey said, “Well the majority are getting their information from the news or internet. It tends to blow up, and they worry about too quickly. There is no need to sit around and worry about it. The people that do need to worry about it is the CDC.”
The fatal coronavirus continues to spread globally, alarming the world. Although this has occurred, Kimsey states an important point that the U.S. has barely been involved or in contact with the virus. As of now, there is no reason for America to panic or assume any future dangers. The CDC has confirmed that they are closely monitoring this outbreak and there are also health officials who are dedicated in investigating for vaccines. Many efforts have been made to control the spread of the coronavirus and develop a vaccine for the public.