Need to know: coronavirus


Staff monitoring passengers’ body temperature in Wuhan railway station during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

Naomi Bitton

On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency after coronavirus spread far beyond its origins in Wuhan, China, into other countries including the United States. Wuhan is the most populated city in Central China, making efforts to contain coronavirus especially difficult. The first human case of coronavirus was declared in December 2019.

Due to its recent discovery, there is a lack of research completed on the 2019 coronavirus. Yale New Haven Health reports that the 2019 coronavirus (officially known as 2019-nCoV) appears to have stemmed from animals in an open-air market, much like the food market in Wuhan. Yale researchers believe the first case of coronavirus in 2019 may have come specifically from an unrecognized bat coronavirus. Common symptoms of human coronavirus are mild-to-moderate upper-respiratory-tract illnesses. The same report states that though humans are more likely to catch non-severe and common cold-like symptoms, someone with a more severe case may develop pneumonia.

A common belief people have is that the coronavirus is similar to the flu. Both the flu viruses (influenza A and influenza B) and coronavirus are contagious respiratory illnesses. Additionally, both the flu and coronavirus may develop into pneumonia, which requires immediate medical attention. However, considering how recently the spread of coronavirus began, the number of people affected is drastically lower. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 million t0 26 million contracted a form of the flu during the 2019–2020 flu season, and of those, there were 10,000 to 25,000 deaths. China’s National Health Commission last reported that the coronavirus has led to 28,018 infections and 563 deaths.

The U.S. Department of State issued a China Travel Advisory placing travel restrictions on citizens attempting to enter or leave China. Additionally, several commercial air carriers have placed their own suspensions on routes to and from China. Chinese authorities have also suspended road, air, and rail travel in Wuhan and surrounding areas. The University has also suspended all study abroad programs to China.

The Pace Press interviewed University student Xin (Rayna) Zhong, who was born and raised in Wuhan. Though Zhong has not been in Wuhan for several months, she offered to provide insight into what precautions the citizens of Wuhan are taking to avoid contracting coronavirus. Zhong’s family, along with other citizens of Wuhan, clean their entire homes daily. Citizens do not leave their homes, with the exception of going to the supermarket. The supermarket itself is meticulously cleaned every one to two days. Zhong mentioned the hospital in Wuhan has been completely occupied and all face masks are sold out.

During the WHO’s speech on handling coronavirus, Tedros Ghebreyesus, who is the director-general of the WHO, gave a declaration on the matter saying, “The only way we will defeat this outbreak is for all countries to work together in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation… We are all in this together and we can only stop it together.”

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World Health Organization / Wikipedia Commons