By now you’re probably well aware that something known as the “Coronavirus” has rapidly become an international crisis. In recent weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus a “global health emergency,” a designation that is not made lightly.
However, while this may sound frightening, the WHO’s declaration actually helps ensure that substantial effort and resources are put into stopping the Coronavirus from spreading any further. The virus has killed more than 630 people, the majority in China. It has infected over 31,000 people across the world.
But what is the Coronavirus? What are its symptoms? And should you be worried about catching it? We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at the origins of this deadly virus and how it came to be a global health emergency:
While the precise origins of this virus are uncertain, all signs point to caves in the Chinese province of Wuhan. Apparently, the novel Coronavirus was found in bats that occupied the once remote caves throughout Wuhan.
As the Chinese population grew, people began inhabiting previously untouched areas, putting them in close proximity to bats infected with the Coronavirus.
As scientists race to understand this new virus and perhaps create a vaccine, they have noted strong genetic similarities with the SARS virus. Both SARS and the Coronavirus originated in bats before they were transmitted to humans. In any case, the estimated death toll from the Coronavirus has risen above 500 in China alone.
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), those infected with the novel Coronavirus will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
Unfortunately, these symptoms are very broad and could apply to a wide range of common illnesses, such as seasonal flu or allergies. To complicate matters further, some people with 2019-nCOV show no symptoms at all. Nonetheless, if left untreated, the Coronavirus can be deadly, especially for the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
It is important to note that 2019-nCOV is a new form of Coronavirus with more severe symptoms. Other forms of Coronavirus commonly circulate among humans and cause mild symptoms that mimic those of a common cold.
Though medical professionals know that the novel Coronavirus originally spread from animals to humans and is now spreading between humans, they are unsure of how contagious it is or exactly how it spreads.
What measures are being taken to stop the spread of the Coronavirus?
While news of the Coronavirus may seem frightening, governments and scientists are working tirelessly to control the spread of the virus and help the infected recover. The majority of infected people live in China, and the Chinese government has instituted quarantines to help contain the Coronavirus.
Many other countries have cut off travel to and from China entirely, while others are merely inspecting and quarantining Chinese travellers.
Though most of the reported cases are in China, some cases have popped up in other countries, including at least 11 cases in the United States. However, thanks in part to the WHO’s designation of the Coronavirus as an “international health emergency,” dozens of governments are working together to help victims, contain the spread, and put the public’s mind at ease.
In China alone, multiple hospitals were constructed in a matter of days near to where the outbreak began. These hospitals will help house new victims and serve as a center for research into the epidemic.
However, the Chinese government has also sought to control the media narrative since the outbreak, shutting down any and all negative press coming from Chinese media. Going forward, it may be difficult for international media to get accurate figures and reports from China, where the number of reported cases is nearing 30,000.
With travel bans and quarantine zones in place, governments are taking the Coronavirus very seriously. That said, this deadly virus has already killed hundreds, and with new cases cropping up every day, the death toll is likely to grow in the coming weeks.
Thankfully, if you live outside of China, the chances of catching this deadly virus are extremely rare. To stay up-to-date on Coronavirus news, consult the Center for Disease Control website.