Public health experts around the world are trying to understand, watch, and stop a new virus that appeared in Wuhan, China at the start of December.
You can use this real-time map created by US researchers. It lets you see where the virus is going. So far, there are over 1,000 confirmed cases and 41 deaths. Most are in Wuhan, but some are in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, France, and the US.
Where did the virus come from?
At the end of December, China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that they had a problem: a new virus was causing sickness in the city of Wuhan. They quickly learned that it was a coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are common in animals of all kinds, and sometimes they can infect humans. Since the start of the century, two other coronaviruses have jumped to humans, SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012. Scientists think this virus started in a fish market in Wuhan, China.
So is this the same as SARS?
Coronavirus is not SARS, although SARS also began in China. Because it comes from the same viral family as SARS, some things are the same about it, but it is a different virus. However, since some things are the same, this means scientists and public health officials can use what they’ve learned from SARS to try to stop this Coronavirus.
How dangerous is this new virus?
Right now, no one knows. People infected have ranged from mild to very bad. Around a 25% of are very bad, according to the WHO. So far, around 4 percent of people die from it, but though that could change. SARS killed about 14 to 15 percent. Most people who died in this outbreak were older people who have other health problems.
I’ve been coughing. Do I have this virus?
If you haven’t been to Wuhan, China … and have not been close to someone sick that was in Wuhan, China, it’s very unlikely you have this virus. So far, most of the sick people are from that city. It’s normal to feel afraid, though. Just try to relax, think about other things, and remember how low your chances of getting sick are.
How can I be safe?
Based on what we know so far, you can protect yourself with the same measures you’d take (and should be taking) to protect yourself against the flu: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, and stay away from people who are sick.
Should I cancel my trip to China?
USA set the travel advisory for China at a level 2, so people should be very careful if they’re traveling there. They say people should not go to Hubei province, the province Wuhan is in. The CDC also says people should not travel to Wuhan unless absolutely necessary.
How is China trying to stop the virus?
On January 22nd, Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, closed buses and subways, and canceled all flights and trains in and out of the city. Fifteen other cities, home to a total of 46 million people, are shut down as well, the New York Times reported.
However, this may or may not work.. I mean, can we really stop all 11 million people from travelling? Who knows?!
How at risk is the United States?
Until we know how easily the virus moves, it’s hard to answer. The CDC says the risk to people in the US is currently low.
The CDC said that there are 63 cases in the US that might be coronavirus. Two of those cases have been confirmed in patients who had recently returned from Wuhan.