A new kind of virus – coronavirus has been plaguing the world’s population over the past few months and has already claimed over a hundred lives since December. This fatal virus that originated from Wuhan City in China has now spread to various countries and even found its way as far as USA. With approximately 4500 confirmed cases since the outbreak, experts are of the opinion that this number will continue to grow as a vaccine hasn’t currently been discovered.
What Is this Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a broad collection of viruses, out of which only six were previously known to affect humans. With the recent epidemic, that number has now risen to seven. It is a pneumonia virus that caused the deadly SARS epidemic of 2002, which infected over 8000 people and claimed over 750 lives until it was stopped.
The symptoms materialize in the form of a regular fever accompanied by a dry cough, which develops into shortness of breath in the span of a week. The virus can manifest in a number of symptoms from a minor cold to, in some cases that the world has seen during the past month, death. Despite the mild cold, sneezing or a runny nose aren’t symptoms of the infection.
Patients need to be hospitalized once the infection takes hold. One in four cases of the infection have been observed to have severe consequences.
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Where Did It Come From?
Viruses transmit from organism to organism and many find their way to humans, but only a few cause noticeable effects. Early instances of the virus have been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan and is believed to have been transmitted from illegally traded wildlife.
These origins are yet to be confirmed by experts who are still trying to determine ground zero for the outbreak. Some of the earliest reports of the virus weren’t linked to the Wuhan seafood market at all.
There’s another theory for its origins as well. The SARS virus originated in bats, infecting the civet cat and finding its way to humans. Like its relative, this virus could also have been transmitted from wild animals. This is also a plausible theory as the Wuhan seafood market has a live population of bats, snakes, chickens, and other wild animals.
How Bad Is It?
The situation, as it currently stands, is quite bad. Over a hundred people that we know of have already been mortally affected by the virus. There are also chances that this figure has been knowingly deflated by the Chinese government. Although the ratio of deaths to infections is low, this virus takes its time to spread through the body and cause mortal consequences, so it could only be a matter of time till the virus claims more lives.
This current outbreak brings back memories of the devastation that the SARS and MERS epidemics brought with them. The Wuhan coronavirus is expected to go on a similar trajectory.
The virus spreads through coughs, sneezes, and by coming in contact with infected objects. Experts have revealed that a person carrying the virus can pass it on to 1.4-2.5 people. This measure of a virus’s potency is called the basic reproduction number; any value higher than 1 signifies a self-sustaining virus.
A self-sustaining virus, for those who don’t know, doesn’t become dormant on its own and requires external intervention. Since a vaccine hasn’t yet been found, this infection will continue to spread unless the Chinese government implements strict security protocols and cordons off the affected areas to limit it from spreading. If the virus continues to spread, it is expected to cause the same amount of devastation that SARS did nearly a decade ago.
Coronavirus statistics as of today :
- U.S. reports its first case of person to person transmission.
- First case of coronavirus confirmed in India.
- About 9,800 cases have been confirmed, 213 people have died.
Update : First Coronavirus vaccine is set for testing in china, more info: fortune