According to health authorities, the death toll from the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has risen to 56 Sunday, with more than 1,900 others affected by the virus.
The news of the growing outbreak in China follows reports of cases of the virus being discovered in other countries around the world, including the United State’s, Canada, Australia and France.
The World Health Organization (WHO) met earlier this weekend and decided the outbreak was not yet a global emergency.
Locations with Confirmed 2019-nCoV Cases
- Hong Kong
- The Republic of Korea
- United States
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the “2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” is a coronavirus identified as the cause of respiratory illness which was first detected in Wuhan, China.
According to the CDC, it is unclear how easily or sustainably the virus is spreading between people. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.
The CDC’s report on the virus
Patients with confirmed 2019-nCoV infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- shortness of breath
CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS viruses.
The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.
How it Spreads
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS. Many of the patients in the pneumonia outbreak caused by 2019-nCov in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring.
When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.
It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s not clear yet how easily 2019-nCoV spreads from person-to-person. It’s important to know this in order to better understand the risk associated with this virus.
There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.
Prevention & Treatment
There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Right now, 2019-nCoV has not been found to be spreading in the United States, so there are no additional precautions recommended for the general public to take. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
These are every day habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
See Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals for information on patients under investigation.
Featured photo: Passengers wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)