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New Viral Outbreak In China – Three Deaths And 200 Affected

A new virus that causes pneumonia-like illness has been reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, which already affected 200 people and took three lives. The disease was under observation of the World Health Organization (WHO) since first reported on Dec. 31, 2019. The Chinese scientists linked the new virus to the “coronaviruses,” a family of viruses that includes deadly SARS and MERS viruses. But the scientists haven’t yet fully understood how destructive the new virus could be. Investigators and researchers are just beginning to understand how far it has spread, what are the symptoms, and where did the virus originate from.

The new disease, ‘2019-nCoV’ does not seem to be highly contagious. But the authorities are taking steps to prevent its spread as around 200 cases are reported in China and abroad by now. The actual number of cases could be more than that of the reported. The busy airports in Singapore, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong as well as three airports in the US and have begun to screen the incoming passengers for symptoms of illness

What is a coronavirus?

The viruses that look like spiked rings under an electron microscope and that belongs to the family of Coronaviridae are known as Coronaviruses. The name comes from the spikes that form a halo around the envelope of the virus.

Just like the other viruses, Coronaviruses also carry a strand of RNA and cannot reproduce without invading a living cell. The spikes help them to attach to the cells. Once they are inside the living cell, viruses multiply in number by using the molecular machinery of the living cell. The new viruses are released and then infect the other living cells. The cycle continues.

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These viruses are typically found in animals ranging from household pets and livestock to wild animals like bats. The virus causes respiratory illness, fever, and inflammation in the lungs once they infect humans. They can cause severe respiratory illness in immunocompromised individuals like elderly people or those with HIV-AIDS.

The viruses in the Coronaviridae family were reported to cause deadly diseases like the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). MERS killed 850 people and infected 2,500, while SARS infected 8,000 people and resulted in 800 deaths.

The new viral outbreak in china: Where did the virus come from?

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan seems to be the origin of the virus. Wuhan is a Chinese city situated 650 miles south of Beijing and a home for over 11 million people. The market sells panoply of animal meats along with fish. It is still not confirmed that the virus has emerged from animal species like previous coronaviruses, SARS and MERS.

Even in the past epidemics, markets have been suspected of the origin and spread of viral diseases. The majority of the confirmed cases in recent weeks were linked to the Huanan Seafood marketplace. However, researchers need to confirm the origin of virus through a series of experiments.

Raina MacIntyre, head of the biosecurity research program at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute said that sampling of the market and testing of animals in the Wuhan area would provide more information.

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How many cases have been reported?

41 cases of a possible 59 had been confirmed in Wuhan as of Jan. 16.  An additional case was reported on Jan 19 in a 66-year-old male from Shenzhen, who had traveled to Wuhan in December

A case was reported in Japan on Jan. 17, and two additional cases were confirmed in Thailand

The press release issued by Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on Jan. 18 reported 17 new cases of the virus. One day later, 136 new cases were confirmed by the Chinese authorities across Beijing, Shenzhen, and Wuhan. This brought the total number of cases confirmed to 198. The increase in the number of cases was because the health officials in China started looking for virus in patients with pneumonia-like symptoms.

800 residents who visited the Wuhan market or had been in close contact with the patients reported with symptoms are being monitored by the national authorities in China because of The new viral outbreak in china.

Among the three deaths recorded, the first was a 61-year old man who had visited the Wuhan market frequently and was suffering from abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease. The second was a 69-year old man who had severe damage to multiple organs and was presented to the hospital.

The total number of cases could be much higher than reported, with over 1700 cases, according to a study conducted by the Imperial College London on Jan. 17. The study calculated how far the virus could have spread based on the incubation period of the virus and the amount of travel in and out of Wuhan since the first day of detection.

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How does the coronavirus spread?

Scientists are feverishly working to answer this major question. As of now, the role of live animal markets in its spread and which animals acts as a reservoir for the virus is unclear. The human to human transmission seems limited as none of the health officials or attendants have been reported with the disease. More investigation is going on to confirm this.

World Health Organization has suggested that the possibility of human to human transfer cannot be excluded as the Wuhan Market was shut down on Jan.1. This could cause some concern for authorities who are trying to slow down the disease.

What are the symptoms?

The new viral outbreak in China shows similar symptoms as that of previous coronavirus diseases. A large number of identified patients showed mild pneumonia-like symptoms, while some others had much severe symptoms. Some of the symptoms are

  • Elevated body temperature
  • Dry Cough
  • Respiratory distress like shortness of breath or breathing difficulties

Some patients were detected with inflamed lungs filled with fluid, just like the case of Pneumonia.

Is there a treatment for coronavirus?

Researchers were unsuccessful in developing reliable treatments or vaccines against the virus as Coronaviruses are notoriously hardy organisms, and they’re effective at hiding from the human immune system. Health officials are trying to deal with symptoms instead.

How to reduce your risk of coronavirus?

Although no confirmed cases of the virus have been seen outside Asia, there is potential it has already spread further, and cases could arise further afield. WHO has recommended a range of measures to protect yourself from the infection.

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