An ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - a respiratory illness which belongs to the same family as the common cold) - caused by SARS-CoV-2, started on the 1st of December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, China.
- COVID-19 has the potential of becoming a pandemic, by spreading worldwide.
The transmissibility of the coronavirus is sufficient for sustained community transmission, and locally acquired cases have been reported across the world, along with several deaths.
The majority of cases are travellers who picked up the virus in China.
The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern.
||Coronavirus disease 2019 (SARS-CoV-2)
What is Coronavirus outbreak 2019-2020? / Facts
Origin - COVID-19 is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before.
Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals.
Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city.
Symptoms - Infection by the coronavirus is primarily through human-to-human transmission via respiratory droplets that people cough, sneeze, or exhale. Symptoms may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, organ failure and death.
Incubation period - The incubation period is typically between 2 to 14 days, the mean incubation period being of 5.2 days.
Transmissibility - The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people, and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital.
Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact.
Generally, the coronavirus appears to be hitting older people hardest, with few cases in children.
Death rate - The mortality rate from COVID-19 is around 3.69% in the epicentre of the outbreak, Hubei province, and less than that elsewhere.
An exception has been Italy, where the mortality rate is unexplainably higher (6.72%), while in such states as South Korea it has been lower than 1% all the time (currently 0.84%), despite the fact that South Korea has been one of the first countries to contract the virus, and was for 3 month the 2nd most affected country after China.
For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1%, but is highly contagious, this is why it causes about 250,000 to 650,000 deaths each year globally.
SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) had a death rate of more than 10%.
MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome) appears to be less easily passed from human to human, but has greater lethality, killing 35%.
Who is affected - The old and the sick are most prone to it. The current fatality rate is less than 0.5% for people under the age of 50, but it rises to 8% for people in their 70s and 15% for people over 80.
Meanwhile, nearly 11% of people with diseases of the heart died when infected, as did 7% of people with diabetes and 6% of people with long-term lung problems. The average for healthy people is 0.9%.
Death rate split by sex is: male - 2.8%, and female - 1.7%.
There are no fatalities among the 0-9 yearls old children.
Prevention - There are no vaccines or specific antiviral treatments, with efforts typically aiming at managing symptoms and supportive therapy. Hand washing is recommended to prevent the disease. Anyone who is suspected of carrying the virus is advised to monitor their health for 2 weeks, wear a surgical mask or a N95 respirator, and seek medical advice by calling a doctor rather than directly visiting a clinic.
New nanotech copper dioxide masks, very efficient at protection for the wearers, will be available at the end of April 2020 for civil use.
Treatment - As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The existing antiviral drugs against flu will not work for the coronavirus.
Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.
Multiple companies worldwide are trying to come up with a coronavirus vaccine, some of them are already in the approval by governments stage, and will soon proceed to the testing phase.
Steps to be taken on suspision of contracting COVID-19 - The advise is for anyone who has travelled to their homeland from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau or Italy in the last 14 days, and who is experiencing a cough or fever or shortness of breath to stay indoors and call a doctor, rather than go to a hospital by themselves, even if symptoms are mild.
Immunity - There is no clear knowledge. Initially you would expect the body to remember how to fight the virus, but this "memory" can wane, and it is uncertain how long any protection might last. The current supposition is that acquired immunity would last around 4 months, but nobody knows for sure yet.
Other coronaviruses - SARS and MERS are both caused by coronaviruses that came from animals.
In 2002, SARS spread virtually unchecked to 37 countries, causing global panic, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing more than 750.
MERS killed 35% of about 2,500 people who have been infected.
Comparisson to the common flu - The influenza virus appears to kill around 1% of people infected, however, what matters is how many people it can infect. Flu has a low death rate, but it kills hundreds of thousands of people each year because it infects so many.
There are 137,682 seasonal flu deaths so far for the year 2020 (starting January 1), while coronavirus deaths, starting December 1, 2019, are in the amount of 114,270.
Measures taken by goverments - A large response, both in China and globally, followed an increase in cases in mid-January 2020, bringing travel restrictions, quarantines, and curfews.
Airports and train stations have implemented body temperature checks, health declarations, and information signage in an attempt to identify carriers of the virus.
A number of countries have issued warnings against travel to the affected countries.
The World Health Organization has declared on March 11, 2020, that the world has officially entered a coronavirus pandemic.
Wider consequences - There is a considerable socio-economic impact, following the outbreak, resulting in concerns about potential for economic instability.
Also, outbreak-related incidents of xenophobia and racism against people of Chinese and East Asian descent have been reported in several countries.
The spread of misinformation and disinformation about the virus, primarily online, has been described as an "infodemic" by the WHO.
Cases worldwide - As of 13 April 2020, around 1,853,604 cases have been confirmed, including in all provinces of China, and 210 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances: the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan, and the Holland America's MS Zaandam cruise ship. Of these 50,858 cases are serious or critical.
There have been 114,270 deaths attributable to the disease so far, including 110,929 outside mainland China, surpassing that of the 2003 SARS outbreak. 427,801 people have since recovered.
Japan has 8,082 cases, including 712 from the cruise ship Diamond Princess, that were docked earlier in February in Yokohama, and has recorded 134 deaths. There have also been deaths in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Iran and the Philippines at the beginning of the pandemic, and then gradually almost in any other country.
In an attempt to contain Europe's largest outbreak, authorities in Italy announced sweeping closures across the country's north and emergency measures, at the beginning of the outbread, including a ban on public events in all municipalities (with schools, universities, businesses and many public venues closed), after a spike in confirmed cases in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto. The virus has currently spread to the center and south, reaching all regions of the country. More than 156,363 cases have been confirmed in Italy so far, with 19,899 deaths among them. The whole of Italy has been placed under quarantine, which include travel restrictions, closed institutions, schools, churches and commercial structures, and a ban on public gatherings. The quarantine has been extended until July 31, 2020, but, in case the decreasing trend in death toll is mentained, will possibly be ended on April 30, 2020.
Other countries have also imposed school closures, work from home, commercial and other activities temporary halt, ban on walking outside in larger groups or at certain hours of the day, cancelling of all social and sports events until the end of April, 2020, with possibility of extending it.
There have been 84,279 recorded cases and 10,612 fatalities to date in the UK, and 560,433 recoreded cases with 22,115 deaths in the U.S.
South Korea, being among the first to be hit by the coronavirus outbreak, steadily presents one of the lowest death rates - there are 10,537 recoreded cases, with 217 deaths, meaining the death rate is 2.06%.
Germany is the 4th European state most hit by the coronavirus. There are 127,854 recoreded cases in the country, with 3,022 fatalities. The death rate for Germany is 2.36%, one of the lowest globally.
Canada also has one of the lowest death rates, with 24,383 casualties, 717 fatalities, and a death rate of 2.94%.
Australia and Israel also have some of the lowest death rates when compared to other countries, namely 0.96% for Australia (6,351 recorded cases vs 61 deaths) and 0.92% for Israel (11,145 recorded cases vs 103 deaths).
Efforts are being made currently in China and South Korea to prevent the virus entering from outside the country.
Life in China is returning to normal, as the country goes back to work, and flights to London resume.
Info source: Wikipedia, social media accounts, users content.
Last update: 13 April 2020
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