A Tennessee Tech student continues to undergo tests for a new illness called 2019-nCoV, a member of the coronavirus family.
The coronavirus actually represents a group of viruses that can cause numerous illnesses from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). SARS killed more than 800 people in the early part of the 2000s.
Symptoms appear similar to pneumonia, starting with a fever and cough. Medical officials report the virus infects the lungs. It can progress to shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The World Health Organization reports the average person spreads the illness to between 1.5 and 2.5 people, making it a contagious virus. However, scientists are trying to understand just how easily this new virus spreads between humans.
The respiratory illness first came to the attention of health officials in the Hubei Province of China. Officials believe it came from an infected animal at a seafood and “live animal” market, which has since been closed. Coronaviruses spread between animals, but have spread to humans. Bats and snakes have been most often mentioned as the originator of the virus.
A total of 830 cases have been confirmed in China with the death toll currently at 25. The first death occurred January 9. Chinese officials said it appears the majority of fatalities have been among 40+ year-old men with other underlying health issues.
At least three cities have been locked down by Chinese officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to reports. Wuhan, where the illness apparently started, has been closed to individuals coming or going, affecting some 11 million people. The Centers For Disease Control urged Americans not to travel to Wuhan.
At least one case has already been diagnosed in the United States. A Seattle man in his 30s recently traveled to Wuhan. Officials placed him in isolation Wednesday. Reports from Seattle said he will soon be released from the hospital. A Texas A&M student who recently traveled to China has shown symptoms of the coronavirus. The CDC continues to evaluate his case but health officials in College Station reported his symptoms as “mild.”
The CDC began screening passengers arriving from China at New York’s Kennedy Airport, Atlanta, Chicago’s O-Hare Airport, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The CDC has created a test for the illness, but only it can administer the test at this point.
Cases have also been reported in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam. However, the World Health Organization decided Thursday against issuing an international health emergency because less than 30 cases have been reported outside China.
“Make no mistake. This is still an emergency in China,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Thursday News Conference. “It has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”
Chinese officials have also cancelled public celebrations for the Lunar New Year in most major cities, including