Global Health emergency has been declared by WHO over new coronavirus that has so far killed at least 811 people with almost 37,500 cases reported from worldwide since its outbreak in China’s Wuhan city.
According to reports most of these cases are reported from China’s Hubei province.
On February 6 a US citizen in Wuhan could not battle the disease, while the Japanese Foreign Ministry has now reported a Japanese man “suspected of being infected” with the virus has also died in Wuhan on February 8.
What is coronavirus?
The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
According to WHO these viruses originally transmitted between animals and people, as for instance, SARS was transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS travelled to humans from a type of camel.
Reports suggested several known coronaviruses are circulating within the animals that have not yet infected humans.
This novel coronavirus was identified by Chinese authorities on January 7 and named as 2019-nCoV, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.
According to WHO’s statement, individuals infected with this news strain can show signs of infection which include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
In more severe cases, these basic symptoms can lead to pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and even death.
The statement said the incubation period for this new strain remains unknown but experts suggested it could be between 10 and 14 days.
Is the virus deadly?
With the number of fatalities reported after being affected by this new strain has surpassed the toll of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak it is deadly since it killed at least 813 people.
Whereas SARS had killed around nine percent of those it infected – nearly 800 people worldwide and more than 300 in China alone.
MERS, on the other hand, was more deadly, killing one-third of those it infected.
Cases reported from various regions
Majority of the fatalities have been reported from China’s Hubei province.
With one death each reported from Hong Kong and the Philippines, the virus has spread to many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as Australia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
What is being done to stop it from spreading?
The epicenter of the outbreak Wuhan has been sealed off with restrictions ban placed on travel to and from several other cities.
The Scientists are also working on a vaccine but have warned that one is unlikely to be available for mass distribution before 2021.
The move was meant to “resolutely contain the momentum of the epidemic spreading” and protect lives.
Several Airlines have reportedly cancelled their flights to China with some countries banning Chinese nationals from entering and several more have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan.
Where did the virus originate?
The health authorities in China are still trying to determine the origin of the virus, which they believe is likely from a seafood market in Wuhan.
But WHO report says an animal source appears most likely to be the primary source of the outbreak.
Is this a global emergency?
Yes, the outbreak is now considered as a global health emergency as per WHO.
Over the past 15 years there have been five global health emergencies since 2005 with swine flu in 2009; polio in 2014; Ebola in 2014; Zika in 2016 and Ebola again in 2019.