A never-before-seen virus found in central China's Wuhan city claimed two lives and infected dozens of Chinese people with pneumonia. It was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31
Since January 20, the number of cases in China and abroad has risen to over 200. The Chinese authorities also confirmed that health professionals were infected with viruses, indicating that a person-to-person transmission has occurred. As a result, the authorities take measures to prevent their spread, and WHO convenes an emergency committee on Wednesday, January 22, to investigate whether the virus is a public health emergency. Researchers believe the number of cases may be higher than current reports indicate, and three U.S. airports have started to screen incoming passengers for signs of illness, as well as high-traffic airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia.
Here's All We Know About Mystery Virus and Coronavirus Reduction Measures
What is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses known as Coronaviridae which look like spiked rings under an electron microscope. They are named because of these spines that form a halo around their viral envelope.
Coronaviruses contain an RNA strand in their envelope and cannot multiply without getting into living cells and kidnapping the machinery inside. The spikes on their envelope help them bind to cells, which gives them an entry point. Once inside, they turn the cell into a virus factory and use their molecular conveyor to produce and send more viruses. The new viruses infect another cell, the cycle begins again.
These virus types typically occur in animals, which range from farm animals and domestic animals to wild animals such as bats. When jumping to people, they can cause fever, respiratory problems, and inflammation in the lungs. In immunocompromised people, such as the elderly or people with HIV-AIDS, they can cause serious respiratory diseases.
The causative agents of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) were extremely pathogenic coronaviruses. It was found that it can be easily transmitted from person to person. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in nearly 800 deaths, MERS nearly 2,500 with over 850 deaths.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus appears from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, a Chinese city with more than 11 million inhabitants, about 650 miles south of Beijing. The market sells fish and a variety of other animal meats. However, it is not yet known whether it originated from an animal such as previous coronaviruses, SARS and MERS.
Markets have been involved in the development and spread of viral diseases in previous epidemics, and much of the confirmed cases have been observed. So far, I have been to the Huanan Seafood Marketplace in the past few weeks. The market seems to be an integral part of the puzzle, but researchers need to do a number of experiments and tests to confirm the virus's origin.
"Tests on animals in the Wuhan region, including samples from the markets, will allow more information," said Raina MacIntyre, director of the biosafety research program at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.
How many cases have been reported?
By January 16, 41 cases of a 59 were possible, had been confirmed in Wuhan. On January 19, another case was confirmed in Shenzhen, China, for a 66-year-old man who traveled to Wuhan in December.
Two other cases were confirmed in Thailand, and one case was reported in Japan on January 19, 17. On January 20, the first case was reported in South Korea.
The Wuhan City Health Commission issued a press release on January 18 that reported 17 new cases of the unknown virus. A day later, the Chinese authorities confirmed 136 new cases in Wuhan, Beijing and Shenzhen, bringing the total to 198 cases. The increase in cases was due to Chinese health authorities looking for the virus in patients with pneumonia symptoms.
National authorities in China continue to monitor more than 800 residents who have visited or who have had long-term contact with the Wuhan market for symptoms of the novel disease.
Three deaths were recorded. The first death occurred on a 61-year-old man who had visited the Wuhan market and had chronic liver and abdominal tumors. The second death occurred in a 69-year-old man who introduced himself to the hospital with severe damage to several organs.
A study published on January 17 by Imperial College London estimates that the total number of 2019 nCoV cases could be much higher than reported, with over 1,700 cases. The work led by Neil Ferguson calculated how far the virus is likely to spread based on its incubation period and the amount of travel in and out of Wuhan since it was first discovered.
How does the corona virus spread?
This is one of the most important questions that researchers are working feverishly to answer. It is unclear which animals act as a reservoir for the virus and what role the markets for live animals play in the spread. There are no reports of health officials and companions who have the disease, suggesting that human-to-human transmission is limited – but this is still being investigated.
"It does not appear to be very contagious between people at this stage, based on approximately 60 known symptomatic cases," Macintyre said in a statement on January 17.
The market, which was considered the epicenter of the spread, was closed on January 1st. The World Health The organization has suggested that human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out at this time, which could be cause for concern for authorities trying to slow the disease.
On January 20, the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Diseases was opened Research on reports suggest that health workers in China were infected with the virus. This was a remarkable turning point in the previous SARS epidemic, as health workers who moved between countries could help the disease spread. It is also confirmed that human-to-human transmission is likely, which could hamper efforts to curb the virus in the coming weeks.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, will call an emergency committee on Wednesday, January 22, to determine whether or not this new virus is a public health emergency.
What are the symptoms?
The novel coronavirus causes symptoms similar to those of previously identified disease-causing coronaviruses. There appears to be a range of diseases among the currently identified patients – a large number show mild pneumonia symptoms, while others respond much more strongly.
Patients with increased body temperature and dry cough. Shortness of breath occurs as the disease progresses and can lead to shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. According to the WHO, some chest x-rays showed pneumonia that inflames the lungs and fills them with fluid.
Is there a treatment for the coronavirus?
Corona viruses are notoriously robust organisms. They are effectively hiding from the human immune system, and we have not developed reliable vaccine treatments to eradicate them. Instead, health officials are trying to deal with the symptoms.
How to reduce the risk of coronaviruses
Although no confirmed cases of the virus have been found outside of Asia, there is a potential that it has already spread and more cases may occur in the field. WHO recommends a number of measures to protect yourself from a disease based on good hand hygiene and good airway hygiene, similar to how you would reduce the risk of flu.
A Twitter thread developed by WHO is below.
This article was originally published on January 19 and is constantly updated as new information becomes available.