What We Know So Far About China’s Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus in China

Coronavirus, which has infected hundreds in China now, was first reported in Wuhan, China in  December 2019. The virus has now spread to Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, three of China’s largest cities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Coronavirus was first isolated in 1937 from an infectious bronchitis virus in Birds. The virus is linked with two extremely rare and dangerous diseases- SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
  • Responsible for around 15 to 30 percent of common colds, the virus has been linked with infecting mice, rats, dogs, cats, turkeys, horses, pigs, and cattle.
  • Its outbreak in Wuhan and further spread in other parts of the country is linked with its initiation in an animal. The virus spread in humans, Scientist Leo Poon hypothesized.
  •  Scientist Leo Poon first decoded the virus and said that though the virus causes Pneumonia, it is SARS which kills 10 percent of the individuals suffering from it. 

What Is Coronavirus?

First isolated in 1937 from the infectious Bronchitis Virus, Coronavirus was thought to have the ability to seriously devastate poultry stocks. The virus’ connection with humans was first established in the 1960s and was hence named as Human Coronavirus (HCoV). The virus was found in humans suffering from the common cold. The name Corona has been derived from Latin, meaning crown (Because of the projections on its surface in its chemical structure).

Can It Be Transmitted Between Humans?

Since the time, it was discovered, there have been speculations about whether it can be transmitted between humans.  Even when it was first detected in China on December 12, 2019 the initial reports stated that human to human transmission, in this case, is quite unlikely. However, Chinese health authorities have now said that Human To Human Transmission is possible. In fact, the rate of transmission is quite high, as a single patient is believed to have infected 14 people of the staff in one hospital reported the New York Times.

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Why Is It Worrying?

The rate at which the virus is spreading is in itself an issue to worry about. The virus has also spread to Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. These are the three largest cities in China and the busiest transport hubs in the country. After a few days, China will be celebrating the Lunar New Year and hundreds of millions of Chinese are expected to travel to and from these cities. This might result in a spike in the number of cases. Also, the virus has claimed the lives of nine people since its outbreak in Wuhan.

How Does It Affect Humans?

Most commonly, the virus is known to cause mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to the common cold. The main symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

According to MedicalNewsToday, the two main syndromes associated with the virus are SARS and MERS. Though both affect the respiratory tracts, SARS is known to lead to a life-threatening form of Pneumonia. It first started in the Guangdong Province in southern China in November 2002, eventually reaching Hong Kong. The disease then spread to 37 other countries in the world. SARS-CoV is unique as it can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tract. Depending on the patient’s age, the death rate with SARS ranged from 0-50% of the cases, with older people being the most vulnerable.

MERS was identified in 2012 and first surfaced in Saudi Arabia, gradually spreading to other countries. MERS is specifically fatal for 30 to 40 percent of people suffering from it.

Can It Be Cured?

According to CNN, there is no specific cure for the infection and the symptoms will only go away on their own. It is advised to see a doctor if you feel the symptoms are worse than a standard cold.

Tips To Protect Yourself

Considering the severe effects it has on human health, it is very much required to take proper precautions against Coronavirus.

  • Keep your hands clean. It is good to wash your hands often with soap or water for at least 20 seconds.
  • It is advisable to not touch your nose or mouth or face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are suffering from any illness.

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