Concerns about the novel coronavirus spreading to more countries were confirmed as Germany confirmed its first infection. The German patient appears to have contacted the virus from a co-worker, in what is believed to be the first human-to-human transmission in Europe.
According to the mayor of Wuhan, the area where the disease is thought to have originated, more than 5 million people have left Wuhan despite the city quarantine — largely due to the Spring Festival, but also due to epidemic fears, potentially helping the virus spread even more.
Chinese authorities are not idle. In addition to a temporary ban on wildlife, China is already building two hospitals (including a mobile unit), which are expected to be completed within one week.
If you would follow the geographic development of the new coronavirus, you would probably find plenty of reasons for concern. The number of confirmed cases is growing like wildfire — there are now over 4,500 confirmed infections, with at least 105 confirmed fatalities. Although it’s still early to draw conclusions, the outbreak seems to be accelerating, and what’s even more concerning, spreading to multiple areas around the globe.
Just two days ago, only a handful of coronavirus cases had been confirmed outside of China. Now, over a dozen countries have confirmed cases, with Australia, US, and Thailand each having at least 5 confirmed cases.
The disease has also reached Europe. France and Germany have each confirmed cases whereas, in the UK, authorities are scrambling trying to be prepared for the virus.
Less than a week ago, officials from the World Health Organization met up to discuss how to deal with the novel coronavirus. They stopped short of declaring it an international outbreak — a decision which seems more and more questionable with each passing day.
China has implemented several active measures to try and limit the spread of the disease, but it is not yet clear how efficient these methods are.
Bans, quarantine, and hospitals
Stopping a virus from spreading in a billion-people country was never going to be easy. Considering that the coronavirus emerged in a sprawling urban and university center such as Wuhan, that seems like an almost impossible task.
There are over 12 million people in the city of Wuhan.
Local authorities have instituted a city-wide quarantine, stopping urban transportation, closing down markets, and warning citizens to not go in or out of the city unless they have a very serious reason to do so. But the quarantine may have had an unforeseen consequence: millions of people have temporarily left the city, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang said. A part of them left to be with their families for the Lunar Spring Festival (the Chinese New Year), but others left as their work was put to a halt by the quarantine.
Nationally, Chinese authorities have also tried to halt the spread by implementing a ban on wildlife trade and closing down markets.
Several patients have already been released from hospitals after making a recovery. This highlights the importance of treatment facilities, helping people suffering from severe symptoms. Two hospitals are currently being built, with authorities announcing that they will be completed in a matter of days. The ambitious construction project is live-streamed and can be watched here (for Leishenshan) and here (for Huoshenshan).
Coronavirus symptoms can vary in intensity. They can be mild and flu-like (with moderate fever and dry cough), but can also degenerate to pneumonia. It has been confirmed that the virus can spread from human to human, although it’s not yet clear just how contagious the virus is.
If you have any such symptoms and are in contact with someone who may have been infected, check with your physician as soon as possible. A regular chest CT is usually sufficient to show if the infection is serious.