The Coronavirus: The Virus That Has Quarantined 18 Million in China

A new strain of a virus known as the coronavirus has ravaged a city in China and is making its way to other regions. The city, Wuhan, as well as those immediately surrounding, have been locked down to stop the spread of the disease. This has resulted in the quarantine of at least 18 million people. The illness has infected hundreds and killed 26 individuals so far. Officials are working to come up with a treatment and to stop the spread of the virus.

The origin of the virus has been traced to a seafood market in Wuhan. The coronavirus is transmitted to humans by animals. Therefore, it is believed the virus was transmitted from an animal found at the market. It is described as a respiratory disease mimicking the symptoms of pneumonia. Those caught in the disease’s wrath face fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. Since this is a virus, antibiotics are useless. Those that have been infected rely on their immune system to recover. Consequently, those that have passed because of the virus were already in a poor state of health.

Courtesy: Michal Mrozek on Unsplash

The virus has been diagnosed in seven countries. These include the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. The first and only case in the United States is currently in Washington state. The man in his thirties was diagnosed after arriving back from China on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Despite this spread, the World Health Organization says it is still too early to consider the coronavirus a global health threat. Despite this, many are trying to help stop the spread. In Dec., prior to the spread to other countries, Chinese researchers published the entire genome of the virus so that scientists around the world could come up with solutions.

Courtesy: The American Association for the Advancement of Science

Originally, it was thought that the virus was difficult to spread. However, recent developments have made scientists change this belief. Where it was originally thought the disease could only be spread from human to human by sharing utensils or kissing, it is now believed that it can spread without close contact. For instance, one can catch the virus from another person coughing or sneezing in proximity. For this reason, masks are now required to be worn in public in China and those with an infected loved one must also wear one when in the same room.

Courtesy: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Across the country officials and companies are working to stop the spread of disease. Popular places such as Disneyland and the Great Wall of China have been shut down indefinitely to help stop the spread. Markets, malls, grocery stores and hotels have been shut down as well. There have also been travel bans instilled causing despair as many people in China were planning to travel to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Jan. 25. The next steps the Chinese government is taking include continuing to monitor the outbreak, investigating the market where it originated from and coming up with a treatment for the infected.

Although it is not currently categorized as a global health concern, officials still advise the public to remain aware of the symptoms of the illness and the potential for its spread. The case in Washington remains the only case in the United States, but this could change at any point. Travelers arriving from China are currently being screened for the virus in the hopes of preventing any spread in the U.S.

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