On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization detected several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The virus did not match any other known virus. This raised concern because when a new virus appears, we cannot predict how it can affect people.
One week later, on 7 January, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. It was from the family of viruses that include the common cold, and viruses such as SARS and MERS. This virus was temporarily named “2019-nCoV.”
The current situation
Currently, the epidemic is still growing. The death toll rose to at least 80 as China records thousands of new cases. The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases has now increased to over 2,700 across all but one province of mainland China.
China’s Ministry of Finance and National Health Commission has allotted 60.33 billion yuan (US$8.7 billion) towards fighting the deadly coronavirus this year. The money will be used to fund basic public health services and epidemic prevention, the ministry said in a statement Monday.
Besides, Chinese health officials said Sunday that the coronavirus can be spread before any symptoms appear, meaning carriers may not realize they are infected before they transmit the virus to others.
The number of people infected by the Wuhan coronavirus could potentially double every six days in the absence of a major intervention by public health authorities, according to Professor Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
There’s still lots we don’t know about this outbreak, however, and according to Dr. Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, “it isn’t confirmed that people are infectious before they appear to be ill.”
She also stated that no vaccine will be ready in time at the moment. Vaccines take months or maybe years to develop.
So what is next?
The situation may look dire. However, there are men and women fighting in the frontline in order to stop this new enemy. We just need to stay calm and help them by following very simple tips in order to protect ourselves from getting the disease.
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your healthcare provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;