Everything You Need to Know about the Coronavirus


U.S. Food and Drug Administration

As of February 4th, the death toll has risen to over 425. The virus continues to infect people around the world.

Karen Portillo, Staff Writer

It is no doubt that almost everyone has heard of the Coronavirus. As of now, China is currently facing more cases of this virus than it had of SARS in 2002 and 2003. According to the World Health Organization and Chinese officials, the number of reported cases has reached 20,000—most of which were contracted in China. More than 425 people have died from this virus and the numbers are expected to increase as days go by.

Although the Coronavirus seems to be taking the world by storm, its effects can be dated as far back as the 1960s. The first case reported never identified where the virus came from, but they understood it could infect both animals and humans. The coronaviruses is a large family of pathogens that can cause nasal, sinus, and upper throat infections. Although most strands of this virus are not dangerous, in December 2019, the World Health Organization recognized the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV).

According to experts, the outbreak of this virus originated in the Hunan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan city. In this market, hundreds of animals are sold for meat including donkeys, dogs, rats, and wolves. The animal responsible for this illness has not yet been confirmed but to avoid any further contamination, the market was forced to close down at the beginning of January.

The most threatening part of this situation is the fact that people will not show symptoms of this illness until it progresses, meaning they could be spreading it to others without even knowing. The coronavirus is spread through close contact with people, especially those who sneeze or cough within 3-6 feet. According to WHO, signs of this virus include fever, coughing, breathing difficulties, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. To avoid the spread of this infection, it is recommended that people thoroughly wash their hands, cover their nose and mouth when sneezing, thoroughly cook eggs and meat, and avoid contact with people who seem to be showing signs of this illness. As of now, there is no vaccine available to prevent or treat the coronavirus; therefore, the best way to prevent this spread of disease is by following the recommendations listed by the CDC.

In efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, China has currently opened a hospital near Wuhan specifically for coronavirus patients. In just two days, more than 500 workers and volunteers transformed the empty hospital building, which was expected to open in May, into a facility holding up to 1000 beds. Additionally, quarantined hotels have been established for further security. In these hotels in order to protect their worker’s health, robots deliver meals to the guests and even sing to them for entertainment. On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, which means public health is at risk of a disease that could spread internationally, and require a solution on the same scale.

In the U.S., eleven cases have been confirmed and they are currently testing 36 states for the virus. As of now, there is one case in Washington, Massachusetts, and Arizona, two cases in Illinois, and six cases in California. In Palm Beach County, thirty students and three teachers from The Benjamin School are being tested as well. After spending four days at a conference at Yale, authorities are trying to learn whether or not they were exposed to the illness by an ill Chinese student. As of Thursday, the school announced the students would return to their Palm Beach Gardens campus. In response to this outbreak, United Airlines adjusted its flights to China by allowing only four daily flights to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong instead of the typical twelve. From February 9 to March 28, United will cancel 332 roundtrips.

Although this illness has everyone preoccupied, the real problem Americans should be worried about is the flu. The chances of someone contracting the coronavirus in the U.S. are low, but as for the flu, more than 150,000 people have been hospitalized and more than 8,000 have died this season. The best way to combat this spread is by washing your hands, getting vaccinated, and staying away from people who are coughing.

Anatomy and Physiology teacher, Dr. Synder, has some concerns about the coronavirus dilemma. “I am concerned for the people in China because I think the death toll will get a lot higher. As for Americans, I think we are ok as long as the virus does not come over here. If it does, it could potentially be an issue. As of right now since the flu is here, it will kill more people than the coronavirus, but if the coronavirus does get here then we will definitely need to be concerned. I see this going very much how the SARS epidemic went where the death toll was high but nothing crazy. Obviously the flu killed more people that year, but SARS killed the amount of people it did in such a short amount of time.”

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