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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Georgia Southern chapter.

What is a coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a wide family of viruses which create illnesses ranging from flu like symptoms to mild/severe diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and can ultimately lead to death. These viruses are zoonotic meaning they are transmitted from animal to animal and from animal to people. Another key characteristic of this family of hundreds of viruses is that they have the distinct ability to mutate and become immune to general vaccinations and treatments. Therefore, medicine has to be constantly changing and renovated in order to keep up with these types of viruses. An unfamiliar mutation of the coronavirus is what seems to be the cause for the current communicable outbreak happening now in the country of China. This novel coronavirus is one that has not been discovered before or seen in the past, and medical professionals are all flustered with chaos and panic as they try to find the best method of treatment while also having to put forth efforts toward containment. 


On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan City and Hubei Province, China as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). The CDC declared an official name for the virus to be SARSCoV-19 or COVID-19. The viruses ability to rapidly develop and transmit through symptomatic and asymptomatic conditions that can morph from mild to deadly instantaneously is the reason for the PHEIC. China has reported that the total number of confirmed cases in the country to be 76,936, with 2,442 deaths. However we now have reasons to believe China has not been completely honest about the current conditions, cases and deaths due to the outbreak. 

Chinese man with medical mask
Photo by Macau Photo Agency

A recent video from a Wuhan nurse has emerged on the internet and the truth she begins to speak is even more devastating than what has been reported by officials. She goes on to say, 


There are currently 90,000 people infected…” 

as opposed to the 77,000 reported by health officials. As the number of cases rises by the hundreds daily, one can imagine just how high the true death toll is. She also put into perspective just how easily the disease may be transmitted as the failed quarantine of an infected person can result in the spread to “at least 14 people at once.” The exponential growth of this virus is causing the Chinese population to be in imminent danger and the rest of the world remains at risk. 




Even officials who work for the World Health Organization stationed in Geneva, Switzerland reported that the number of coronavirus cases in China may be a lot higher than China is reporting, but they are unsure if the censoring of true statistics is intentional or a result of a failed system. Either way the people of China are in way worse conditions than that of which the rest of the world sees. For that reason, suspicion has arised in regards to the true nature and origin of this deadly virus worldwide, and the unexpected death of Li Wenliang, a chinese “whistleblower” doctor who was silenced and punished after warning the people of China about the virus before conditions got to where they are today has created even more distrust for the Chinese government. The virus first made its appearance some time in December and Dr. Li Wenliang was one of the first to report that a patient at the hospital he worked for presented “SARS-like symptoms.” He communicated his findings to other doctors, peers, and to the public, however Chinese health officials attacked him questioning where he got that information rather than investigating the situation. Later, Dr. Wenliang was contacted by Chinese police and forced to sign an agreement stating that he was falsely spreading rumors online and creating social disruption, and to comply by their demands for silence, and he is also not the only doctor to have fallen victim to this catastrophic disease. We now know Dr. Li Weliang was not the only doctor to be silenced. Health officials then went on to say whatever they could to negate the warning and diminish the diseases true fatality. It wasn’t until over a month later a national emergency was declared. Is this a coincidence or was someone not doing their job? Was this the plan the entire time?

As for the rest of the world, the outlook still does not look promising. A few cases of the coronavirus have made an appearance in the United States, Australia, India, and even more so in South Korea and Italy. Recently, the Washington Post reported that “South Korea reported a significant rise in cases on Sunday, with 169 new cases bringing the total to 602 and two more deaths for a total of six. Italy said the number of confirmed cases had reached 132, up from three in a matter of days.” Cruise ships have been detained, transit systems have been shut down, people have been forced into isolation for weeks. In reality, no one is safe until the virus can be fully contained. 


A few years back, the World Health Organization compiled a list of communicable pathogens that have the potential to result in an epidemic if ever emerged into a population for which there are currently no vaccines or efficient methods of treatment. Diseases previewed on this list include, but not limited to, Zika, Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Lassa fever, as well as a “Disease X,” which represents an unknown disease with the same epidemic characteristics. It is now believed that the Coronavirus, COVID-19, that is currently causing mayhem and creating history today, worldwide may be the “Disease X” health experts warned everyone about so long ago. 


The number one questions people are beginning to ask themselves is, where are these diseases coming from, and how can they be avoided? 


These priority list pathogens are generally transmitted from some sort of insect vectors like mosquitoes, ticks, or animal vectors like chimpanzees and bats. Rarely are these diseases transmitted from person to person, but when infections do spread in this way, the end result is always catastrophic and deadly. The CDC recommends for persons who are infected to stay inside and where facemask if you must go out, and avoid close contact with others, practice good hygiene by washing your hands after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, etc, and most importantly take caution in what you decide to eat, as one of the main methods of transmission for communicable diseases is ingestion. 


As for the coronavirus in China, it is suspected that the outbreak began at a local seafood market that has now been shut down. Contaminated food is believed to be the source of this virus, however public health officials are still investigating what specific animal has caused the outbreak as coronaviruses usually originate in bats. On another note, it is also believed that climate change has had a contribution to the rise in these new diseases in countries they do not generally appear. For this virus, the best way to avoid contracting it is to stay indoors and avoid contact with the general public, wear a face mask (only if you are infected), practice respiratory hygiene, and to seek medical care early if symptoms begin to show as treatment during early stages provides the best outcome. 

Ygor Lobo
Ygor Lobo / Unsplash

The cities in China where the virus first began to appear are now like “ghost towns” as people are avoiding going outside and human contact at all cost. School systems have shut down and businesses and employees have not been able to operate to their fullest extent. While hospitals, as well as hospital employees like doctors, nurses, physicians, and public health officials, are reaching their capacity and developing a shortage on supplies and hospital beds as there can be around 600 new patients in one day and 500 new cases have recently been reported in Chinese prisons. As of right now, it is difficult to predict the outcome of it all. Will the virus be contained in time or will the death toll continue to rise? How much longer are we safe in the states? Is this going to be the only disease to break out at the capacity, or does climate change make more viruses like these imminent in our future? At this rate, the world may never know. 


Da'Jia Daniel

Georgia Southern '22

Da'Jia is a Public Health major at Georgia Southern University who believes in the power of voice. As a heavy activist, she believes in speaking up for whatever you are passionate about and having pride in doing just that. Her favorite activities include writing, playing the violin, and spending time with her friends and family. She values all the connections she makes throughout life, good and bad.
Jordan Wheeler

Georgia Southern '22

Jordan Wheeler is a Junior Pre-Law Philosophy major who attends Georgia Southern. Jordan loves writing, singing, and hanging out with friends.