The Coronavirus continues to spread across the globe
What is it?
A new coronavirus strain has afflicted over 20,000 people across the globe, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A coronavirus is a type of virus found in mammals and birds. Most coronaviruses are mild, but certain strains can be severe and potentially fatal. Previous notable strains include SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome).
The new strain, scientifically called 2019-nCoV, has symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. As of Feb. 4, over 400 people have died from the virus in China, with one reported death in the Philippines and one reported death in Hong Kong.
Where is it?
The virus strain began in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. Eleven people have been confirmed with the coronavirus in the United States, with hundreds being screened. A case has been confirmed in the Bay Area, but no cases are known in Humboldt County.
Should I be concerned?
Thus far, those who have died from the disease have had other illnesses that limited their immune system, according to the World Health Organization. The disease is mainly spread through coughing or sneezing. The virus can cause pneumonia.
The United States State Department raised the threat level of the virus to level four, the highest level, on Jan. 31, meaning that travel to China is no longer advised. Many airlines have since cancelled or reduced flights to China.
The World Health Organization determined coronavirus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan. 30. The virus has spread to at least 27 countries.
According to a report by The Guardian, the current estimated mortality rate for the coronavirus is around 2% (though this is likely high, as many people without severe symptoms may not have gone to hospitals). Seasonal flus typically have around 1% mortality rates, while SARS has a mortality rate of 10%. Given current evidence, panic doesn’t appear warranted.