A recent outbreak of a disease that started in Wuhan one of the major cities in Chinese is the focus of the world right now. It is caused by a novel coronavirus that means it’s brand-new so new that actually it doesn’t have a name yet. It is from a family called the coronaviruses the symptoms of which are pretty mundane on the face of it.
What are its symptoms?
It is a combination of dry cough, fever and then breathing problems. It seems quite mild in lots of people and probably those people don’t end up in the hospital at all. We only know about the more severe cases which are where people have gone on to develop viral pneumonia and those people obviously end up in the hospital and all the deaths have been amongst those people.
Where did this virus come from?
This brand new coronavirus came from animals and it’s believed that the source was actually a seafood market in Wuhan which also sells wild animals. so far as we know, all the cases have come out of Wuhan so some of these people are in places like Thailand and Japan but they haven’t picked it up there, they actually got it in Wuhan and then they traveled in China where the most cases are.
Who is getting affected by the virus?
It’s older people who are ending up in hospital with this they’re usually over 40 and the very youngest person diagnosed is about 13 or 14 years old so it doesn’t appear to be affecting small children and those who have died tend actually to have underlying conditions like heart disease or cancer already and so they’re vulnerable basically as their immune systems are not very strong enough and it is difficult to fight a virus like the Coronavirus.
What more do we know?
In a recent revelation, we have ascertained that the new coronavirus is actually being transmitted from one person to another. It was hoped at first actually that it just came from animals as all coronaviruses do but now it looks as though it is actually passed from one human being to another. So we’ve got people-to-people transmission because the markets been closed for some time and there are cases in people who’ve never been near it.
Is there any treatment available?
At the moment there is no treatment at all because this is a virus, antibiotics don’t work on them. They only work against bacteria, not viruses. So, antiviral treatment can be initiated but none of the flu drugs that we’ve got work on this coronavirus. As it is different from a flu virus, so there actually isn’t any treatment at the moment at all. This is frightening because it is a brand new virus, so we don’t know how it’s going to behave.
How bad is it?
Compared to the Ebola virus that was killing more than half of all those people who were infected and SARS which was a novel coronavirus just like this one back in 2002 did end up causing global panic and that was large because nobody had ever seen it before but the death rate was at around 10%. Well here so far we’re talking about a death rate of 2% which is a lot less and it does look as if many of those people actually have had underlying health problems which would make it more likely that they would anyhow die even if they contracted the common flu.
Countries around the world have started taking measures to contain this virus outbreak, but like SARS and MERS, it seems the Wuhan Coronavirus will cause a global panic.
Tell us what do you think.