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Updated: 1/26/2020 7:47:34 AM
Chinese president Xi Jinping has warned the spread of the virus is "accelerating". Public Health organizations are advising anyone who has been to Wuhan within the past 14 days and has developed respiratory symptoms to call the hospital. Those symptoms include a cough, a sneeze, shortness of breath, or a fever. People who are concerned should phone ahead before going to any medical facility and mention their recent travel to the city or contact with people who may be infected. A nationwide ban on wildlife trade is in place and more than 56 million people in almost 20 cities are affected by travel restrictions, which have been introduced amid fears the transmission rate will balloon as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year celebrations. The Lunar New Year holiday, traditionally celebrated by hundreds of millions of Chinese traveling around the country and abroad to see family, began on Friday but has been severely disrupted by the outbreak. Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a pandemic as more countries report cases. Confirmed cases have so far been announced in Europe, North America and several Asian countries.
China's coronavirus has killed 26 people and infected 830 as of Friday, January 24, 2020, the National Health Commission (NHC) confirmed. The worsening case prompted more cities in Hubei province to restrict travel, following the lockdown of Wuhan-- the center of the infection.
Hundreds of medical personnel are being deployed to Wuhan, China, and affected areas to treat the ill and stem the outbreak.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These viruses are common amongst animals worldwide. Rarely, coronaviruses can evolve and spread from animals to humans. This is what happened with the coronaviruses known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-Cov), both of which are known to cause more severe symptoms.
China announced 15 more deaths from the new coronavirus on Sunday morning, including one in Shanghai, the first reported in the metropolis.
Thirteen deaths were also announced in Hubei Province, where the outbreak began, and one was announced in Henan Province. That brought the toll in China to 56.
NHC also confirmed that the number of cases had jumped to 830, with 177 deemed severe. Cases were also confirmed in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and the United States. Across China, 688 new cases were diagnosed on Saturday, the government said early Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,975.
As of Friday morning, 10 patients in California, one in Texas, and one in Tennessee were being isolated as they await test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There have been mild cases where observation has shown that the patients were contagious during the incubation period. The incubation period is around 10 days,” said Ma Xiaowei, director of China’s National Health and Health Commission. “The shortest time before the disease’s onset was one day. The longest was 14 days. This is very different from SARS.”
The CDC says that human coronaviruses are most commonly spread between an infected person and others via:
- the air (from viral particles from a cough or sneeze),
- close personal contact (touching or shaking hands),
- an object or surface with viral particles on it (then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands),
- and rarely from fecal contamination.
Symptoms of the new coronavirus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. These symptoms are similar to those caused by SARS.
Despite sharing some symptoms that were similar to SARS, there "are some important differences," such as the absence of upper respiratory tract symptoms like runny nose, sneezing and sore throat and intestinal symptoms like diarrhea, which affected 20% to 25% of SARS patients, lead author Bin Cao, from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and the Capital Medical University, both in Beijing, said in a statement.
The Chinese government has stopped most of the travel to and from Wuhan as well as 12 other nearby cities, according to The New York Times. This "lockdown" affects about 35 million people, the Times reported. On Sunday, Taiwan's government announced they would not allow in anyone from the Hubei Province, the Times reported.
Major airports in the U.S. are conducting screenings to make sure incoming passengers aren't infected.
The CDC also recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan. On Jan. 23, the U.S. State Department ordered all non-emergency U.S. personnel and family to leave Wuhan, the department said in a statement.