Outbreak of Coronavirus in China Could Potentially Lead to Pandemic

Lauren Guss and Alyssa Chang

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   An outbreak of a type of coronavirus called COVID-19, previously known as 2019-nCoV, began in late January in Wuhan, China, affecting more than 40,000+ people and killing at least 1000+ as of Feb. 13, according to CNN. China is actively reporting thousands of cases by the day. the first report being on Dec. 30. Unfortunately, the virus is spreading to other countries like the US, Canada, Germany, France and multiple countries in close proximity to China.There are currently 13 cases of this virus in the US, thirteen being in California.

   Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses specifically affecting mammals. They typically cause mild respiratory infections, but there is a small chance that they become lethal. This new virus hadn’t been discovered before the outbreak, so this virus does not have a vaccine yet. Medical professionals also do not know how this virus affects people currently, so this outbreak has caused concern to many. 

   The disease began in bats, then spread to civet bats, which are a delicacy in China. People eat these bats in soups, which caused the virus to spread to humans. Another theory is that snakes were first infected. The virus was also said to begin at meat and seafood markets in Wuhan where live animals were slaughtered for consumption and sold.

   “Based on oral swabs, anal swabs and blood collected from seven patients at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, the scientists were able to genetically sequence the virus,” says Vice. “Then they tested it against a database of known viruses and found a 96.2% match with a coronavirus known to live in bats, which is also believed to be the source of the SARS and MERS outbreaks.”

   China has placed mass travel restrictions to make efforts to contain the virus as much as possible. This prevents people from leaving or traveling to China during this outbreak. With the Chinese New Year in full swing, this is a difficult task because many planned on seeing friends and family outside of China. 

   CNN explains, “Historically, a mass quarantine is an aggressive response that’s far from perfect. In the past it has led to political, financial and social consequences.” 

    The shut down in and out of Wuhan is causing many Americans to feel abandoned by the government. In hopes to resolve this, select flights are being sent with these people to return them to America. Right off of the plane, however, most are quarantined to be checked for the coronavirus. 

   The cases are growing in number all around the world, and many are preparing for a pandemic.  

   Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases states, “We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not.” With the rising cases, worry and distress is settling in amongst most countries, especially those currently affected. 

   When asked if she thought this virus has the potential to become a pandemic, Ms. Sage, the  health teacher at West Ranch, responded, “Yes, I do, although the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are on it and they are going to do anything and everything they can to prevent that from happening.”

   Some symptoms of this virus include cough, fever, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting. Patients with common coronaviruses may recover in a few days unless they have a weak immune system.

   In order to prevent this virus from spreading, one should avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth with their hands. It is also important to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid close contact with people who are sick. If symptoms become more than a common cold, one should see a doctor. This virus can spread through the air from a cough or sneeze, close personal contact, touching a surface with viral particles and through touching one’s eyes after they touch something that is infected.

   Mrs. Sage discusses what students can do to help prevent themselves from catching the virus by explaining, “The number one thing is to wash hands frequently and also though people are laughing about it, it might not be a bad idea to wear face masks, avoid crowds, avoid places where sick people are, try not to go to the hospital and visit someone maybe and basic health. Activities like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, trying not to let too much stress get to you, exercise; all those things to strengthen your immune system so if you do get exposed to the virus, hopefully your body can fight it. Not everyone who is exposed obtains it.”

   This newly discovered coronavirus is causing fatalities all around the world, the majority appearing where the outbreak all began: Wuhan. Organizations like the CDC are providing information about the virus and how to protect yourself at their website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html, and efforts are being made to contain this virus as much as possible, like the shutdown of travel in and out of Wuhan.