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The real threat of the coronavirus

February 11, 2020

As 2020 ensues, so does the spread of a deadly and infectious disease: the coronavirus. What started as an outbreak in China has led to thousands of deaths worldwide, including multiple cases of the virus found in the United States. With the viral discussion concerning this disease, it is critical to be well informed on the true facts regarding the coronavirus. 

Coronaviruses have been around for years, and they typically aren’t dangerous. In simple terms, a coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in the nose, sinuses and upper throat. There have been two coronavirus outbreaks in the past. In 2012, there was a MERS (Middle East Respiratory syndrome) outbreak in Saudi Arabia, which caused hundreds of deaths. Severe acute respiratory syndrome spread in the early 2000s and killed 774 people. So, the world has faced coronaviruses before. 

In early 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified a new type, the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. It is believed to be transmitted from animals to humans. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, pneumonia and kidney failure. There is currently no vaccine available for 2019-nCoV.  

The first case of the virus was discovered at a seafood market with live animals in Wuhan, China. Soon after this initial case, the virus spread rapidly. Nearly 15,000 people living in mainland China have been infected, and over 100 people have died.  

The three cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou are now on lockdown to quarantine the virus. However, 5 million people were able to leave Wuhan before the quarantine took effect. Cases are now being reported all over the world, including in France, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Sri Lanka and the United States.  

The United States has spoken on the issue of infection. Foreign nationals who have been in China will be barred from entering the US. 

While the coronavirus may not be as widespread as the flu, it is certainly still a concern to the safety of the world. The WHO declared a global health emergency in January. “I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of 2019-nCoV,” the WHO’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said. The WHO is mostly concerned with the effect this virus will have on countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”  

Another concerning piece of information is the fact that a vaccine for 2019-nCoV could be more than a year away, and the virus could continue to spread and grow over those months. In comparison, there is already an effective vaccine for the flu, which makes it easier to keep under control. While the flu has killed more people overall, the coronavirus outbreak has only been taking place for about a month and could potentially become more dangerous than the flu. 

Some ways to reduce the risk of contracting 2019-nCoV are to keep good hand and respiratory hygiene, thoroughly cook meat and eggs and avoid contact with wild or farm animals.  

This coronavirus outbreak shows the flaws that still exist in the world’s medical system. Whether people want to admit it or not, anyone is susceptible to contracting this virus, and any other disease for that matter. The human race is far from invincible, and something must be done to fix this worldwide issue. 



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