The Coronavirus – What You Need to Know

- 1B Biomedical
Posted on: February 13, 2020

On December 31st, many people in the city of Wuhan, China were reported to have pneumonia-like symptoms as a result of a then-unknown virus. On January 7th, China officially informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of a newly discovered virus called 2019-nCoV or the 2019 novel coronavirus.
So, what exactly is a coronavirus? Coronaviruses are grouped based on the fact that they are linked to having the ability to infect both humans and animals. Symptoms are similar to those of common cough and cold but can develop to become more serious infections like bronchitis and pneumonia. China has had a previous coronavirus epidemic that occurred in 2002. It was called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), but the number of cases of coronavirus has exceeded those of SARS.
The new strand of reported coronavirus had been previously assumed to originate from a seafood market in Wuhan where wild animals were also traded illegally. Further studies were done by virologists working at the Wuhan Institute for Virology where they were able to identify the genetic attributes of the virus. They found that the virus’s genetic makeup was a 96% match to coronavirus found in bats. The virologists concluded that the coronavirus was probably spread by the bats and there were infected people prior to when cases were officially declared. WHO officially declared the coronavirus an international public health emergency on January 31st.
As of most recently, more than 34,000 people have been infected and the death toll has risen just past 700 with the first United States citizen having died from the virus in Wuhan, China on February 6th. More than 25 countries have reported at least one case of the virus and some have confirmed cases of infection where the person was infected through human-to-human contact with another who had traveled to the city of Wuhan. As of now, Canada has reported 7 cases of the coronavirus with four cases in the province of British Columbia and three in the province of Ontario. The difficulty with tracking the coronavirus is its lengthy incubation period. A person can have the coronavirus but not show symptoms for up to two weeks. This makes it difficult to prevent the spreading of the virus and risks the chances of an individual becoming infected.
Although it feels as though the situation is heading in an unpleasant direction, there is still hope that the virus is not as deadly as other types of coronavirus and may possibly be curable. Some individuals who were infected are reported to have returned to a more stable condition and displayed no symptoms of the coronavirus. They were discharged and allowed to return home. This has given many researchers who are working to find a cure for the coronavirus hope at finding one in order to treat those infected more efficiently. Additionally, each country is taking the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from spreading further. It is important at times like this to remember to support and help those around us, especially those who may be having difficulty dealing with the reality of such an epidemic. It is also important to support those around us who have family and friends in China or any other infected countries that may be affected by the coronavirus as this is a difficult time for everyone in the community.

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