Outbreak of Coronavirus in China Could Potentially Lead to Pandemic

Alyssa Chang and Lauren Guss

   An outbreak of a new type of coronavirus called COVID-19, previously known as 2019-nCoV, began in late January in Wuhan, China. So far, this devastating virus has affected more than 81,000+ people and killed at least 2,700 as of Feb. 26, according to BuzzFeedNews. China is actively reporting thousands of cases by the day.

   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 15 cases of this virus in the US, with numbers escalating every day. 

   Coronavirus is a large group of viruses specifically affecting mammals. They typically cause mild respiratory infections, but there is still 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 was originally said to have begun in a seafood and animal market in Wuhan. Healthline states that the coronavirus strain in pangolins, a type of anteater, is 99% identical to the strain in humans. Other theories support bats or snakes as the cause of this outbreak. 

   “Early on, many of the patients in the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread,” says the CDC, or the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

   Another theory is that the virus escaped from China’s only level 4 microbiology lab, which is located in Wuhan. Chinese leader Xi Jinping expresses that a national system to strengthen biosecurity risks must be put into action “to protect the people’s health,” according to the New York Post.

   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 currently in China 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. Many are wearing masks to protect themselves from the virus, as shown in the picture above. 

   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 even though people are laughing about it, it might not be a bad idea to wear facemasks, avoid crowds, avoid places where sick people are, try not to go to the hospital and visit someone maybe and basic health.” She adds, “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.”

   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.

Updated Mar. 5 at 7:46 a.m.:

When asked about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump has some controversial comments to share. 

After a reporter questioned what he was doing to prevent the deadliness of this virus on Feb. 26, Trump simply laughed and compared this outbreak to the flu, saying “You don’t have to necessarily grab any handrail if you don’t have to,” during his press conference. 

However, he seems to want to comfort all who are worried because of the cases in the U.S. 

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries,” he tweeted on Monday, Feb. 24. 

As of March 5, 11 U.S. citizens have died of the novel coronavirus, most residents of the Life Care Center of Kirkland, a nursing care facility in Seattle, and two more in Washington state and California.

Now is not the time to panic, stresses US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. He preaches, “Caution is appropriate. Preparedness is appropriate. Panic is not.” 

The cases of COVID-19 include 45 passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three Americans who are recent travelers of Wuhan who have recently been repatriated, 17 who have contracted the virus through travel, and 37 who became sick through person-to-person spread or of unknown sources. 12 states around the U.S. have experienced cases of the novel coronavirus, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, New York, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

Although the World Health Organization rates the virus at a 3.4 percent mortality rate, President Trump called the numbers “false” in an apparent effort to calm citizens. 

Health experts are hypothesizing that the country’s toll will rapidly increase as the U.S. starts more tests for coronavirus cases. There are currently 80,409 confirmed cases just in China, along with 3, 012 deaths. Other countries with cases include South Korea with 6,088 cases and Italy with 3,089. 

Another concern for the U.N. is that more than 290 million students are being kept at home due to school disclosures, resulting in education disruption. Countries including South Korea and Japan have closed down schools across the nation in an effort to contain the coronavirus. 

Cats, make sure to wash your hands frequently and use caution like in any flu season.

Updated on March 12, 2020 at 7:48

Currently, there are 129,771 coronavirus cases and 4,751 deaths worldwide. Just in the U.S. alone, 1364 cases have been confirmed, and 38 have died. 

While more COVID-19 cases are being confirmed in the U.S., racial discrimination has increased toward Asian-Americans as well. According to Business Insider, “Many Americans are already dealing with another kind of flare-up: xenophobia and racism. There have been reports of blatant verbal and physical attacks around the world.” 

On Saturday, Mar. 8, an unknown assailant snuck up behind Li Qianyang, a 48-year-old Chinese man, in Brooklyn, stabbing him 13 times in the back, head, arms and chest before fleeing. Authorities hypothesize that the attack was possibly a coronavirus-related hate crime because both men were wearing surgical masks, but the cause remains widely unknown. 

Prestigious universities are slowly virtualizing their lectures and classes in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading. Stanford, USC, Princeton, as well as several public schools, have closed across the country. 

As  the coronavirus continues to spread, people are heading to grocery stores to stock up on food and other basic necessities due to fear of supplies running out. Many stores have already run out of hand sanitizers, water bottles and toilet paper. However, according to the BBC, “consumer psychology experts say the irrational herd mentality is fueled by social media and alarmist news coverage.” 

There is a very strong possibility that West Ranch will temporarily be closed due to the coronavirus spreading. In this case, classes will be held online on Google Classroom and teachers will .This is all we know for sure, but more information is on the way.

American actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks tweeted on Wed. March 11 reporting that both him and his wife, Rita Wilson, had contracted the coronavirus while filming in Australia. 

“We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches,” he admitted in his tweet, “Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers, too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive.” Many began to panic at this, but he kept readers calm by expressing, “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves!” 

The massive spread of the coronavirus has led to the positive test result of a player in the NBA, causing the reconsideration for upcoming games. 

“Shortly after determining that Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the National Basketball Association took the unprecedented step of suspending the 2019-20 season indefinitely,” explains USAToday.

Cats, remember to protect yourself from catching and spreading the virus by washing your hands frequently and for 20 seconds or more, avoiding touching your face, covering your cough or sneeze with your elbow and staying home if you are sick.