The Coronavirus


If you’ve been online recently, you’ve probably seen something about a new coronavirus. The overwhelming majority of the cases have been recorded in the Hubei province of China, whose capital city, Wuhan, has been identified as the place of origin of this virus. The first case was recorded in late December when a patient came into a hospital afflicted with a sickness similar to pneumonia. So far, over 65,000 cases and 1,500 fatalities have been recorded worldwide. The number may be even larger, as the incubation period of the disease is unknown and not all who have been affected have reported their illness.

A coronavirus typically spreads from animals to humans. In fact, the coronavirus in question, known as COVID-19 (2019-nCoV), is believed to have originated in a market selling wild animals. This origin story is similar to that of the Severe Acute Respiratory Sickness, or SARS, the outbreak that occurred in 2003 from the consumption of civet cats, which are considered to be a delicacy in Asia. 

This virus comes at a rather inopportune time as millions celebrate the Lunar New Year. With the Lunar New Year comes travel and festivities as many return home to celebrate with family. However, the city of Wuhan has been placed under a strict travel ban and is receiving aid from outside doctors. In an effort to contain the virus and mitigate its effects, the Chinese government has taken steps toward large-scale quarantining and stopping the sale of wild animal products, both online and in person.  

Despite efforts to contain the virus, it had already spread to other countries after travelers from Wuhan experienced symptoms similar to those of the outbreak. In hopes of keeping the spread of the virus to a minimum, the government has extended the Lunar New Year festivities to February 2, but their efforts haven’t been entirely successful as more and more cases emerge around the world. Affected countries include Japan (252 cases), Singapore (fifty-eight), Thailand (thirty-three), South Korea (twenty-eight), Malaysia (nineteen), United States, (fifteen), and twenty-two others.

According to the CDC, symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus is believed to be capable of transmission from person-to-person in limited situations, especially when in close contact. Currently, the CDC does not recognize any elevated risk to Americans, but still strongly advises people to stay vigilant and hygienic.