The Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction

Robert Jackson '20, Staff Writer

Many people have probably heard about the coronavirus outbreak that has recently made an appearance. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is a new strand of respiratory illness from the coronavirus family, and it was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The name of this strand of the virus is 2019-nCoV or 2019 Novel Coronavirus. 

Over a thousand cases have been confirmed by health officials in China, with the majority in Wuhan, and other cases outside of the city in Hong Kong and Macau. According to a CNN article that was published on January 26, there have been 56 confirmed deaths and over 1900 confirmed cases throughout China, with 237 patients in critical condition.

In an effort to contain the outbreak, the Chinese central government stated that they would send around 1,200 health workers and “135 People’s Liberation Army medical personnel.” The New York Times has reported that  the death toll has reached 81, and there are now 2,700 confirmed cases in China. 

The statistics and information about the virus could be inaccurate due to patients showing symptoms without being tested. The New York Times describes one such case of a 51-year-old  man named Xiao Shibing, saying “despite the symptoms, he was not tested for the coronavirus.” Xiao had “a fever and breathing problems for more than 15 days” before being checked. Even after being hospitalized on Sunday, Xiao still remains untested for the virus.

Despite the containment efforts, there have been confirmed cases in other places outside of China, such as Taiwan, Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, The Republic of Korea, the United States and Vietnam. The US has five confirmed cases of the virus due to people traveling from Wuhan. These cases were in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington.

Many patients in Wuhan city have had contact with animal or seafood markets at some point before getting it which suggests an “animal-to-person spread”. This information, however, is now being countered by the fact that a growing number of patients said that they had not had any link or contact with any animal markets, which points to a “person-to-person spread”.

Not much is known about the disease in regards to how it spreads or how contagious it is, but the information will be updated as time goes on and the virus is further analyzed. The CDC stated, “While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.”

Image courtesy of Hector Retamal.

Facts courtesy of cdc.gov and cnn.com.