- The new coronavirus outbreak, initially identified in China, is continuing to grow more than 3 months after it was first detected.
- More than 101,000 people have contracted the virus first detected in December. More than 3,400 deaths have resulted from the disease.
- The disease is called COVID-19 and is caused by infection from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is one of multiple coronaviruses that can infect humans.
- Other examples include SARS, MERS, and even the common cold.
Three months after the new coronavirus was detected in China, cases of COVID-19 have reached a milestone with more than 101,000 cases globally, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
In the United States, the
At least 12 people have died due to the virus in the United States.
Leaders around the world are taking steps to try and stop the outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on countries to make fighting the disease their “highest priority.”
President Donald Trump signed a bill that would provide $8.3 billion in emergency aid to combat the new coronavirus.
The bill is supposed to help federal departments, like the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and CDC, fight the outbreak.
It may help fund vaccine development, cover humanitarian assistance, and provide loans to affected small businesses.
A survey by the union that represents nurses, National Nurses United, found a significant portion of nurses say they feel hospitals are unprepared for a major outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The survey included responses by 6,500 nurses in 48 states. It found a significant number of them do not have clear information about how to handle patients who may be suspected of having the novel coronavirus.
But nearly a quarter said they’re not sure if there’s a plan to isolate patients with signs of COVID-19. Just under 30 percent report they know there’s a plan to isolate patients with symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, access to medical supplies is becoming an issue. Only 63 percent of nurses report having access to the N95 respirator face mask in their workplace.
In addition to the survey, during a press conference, a statement was read from a nurse in California who cared for a patient with COVID-19.
The unnamed nurse reported they developed symptoms of COVID-19 but haven’t been tested yet despite both their doctor and county health officials wanting them to be tested.
According to her statement, the CDC determined that because they were wearing protective gear while caring for the patient, they weren’t able to contract the virus.
“What kind of science-based answer is that?” questioned the registered nurse in her statement released by the union. She continued:
“[The CDC] claim[s] they prioritize running samples by illness severity and that there are only so many to give out each day. So I have to wait in line to find out the results. This is not the ticket dispenser at the deli counter; it’s a public health emergency! I am a registered nurse, and I need to know if I am positive before going back to caring for patients.
“I am appalled at the level of bureaucracy that’s preventing nurses from getting tested. That is a health care decision my doctor and my county health department agree with. Delaying this test puts the whole community at risk.”
A cruise ship is being held off the coast of California after a passenger who had traveled on the ship was found to have contracted the new coronavirus.
The passenger was found to have the virus after disembarking and later died due to the disease.
The passenger was believed to have contracted the virus while on a cruise from San Francisco to Mexico. Officials said the person had limited exposure to the community after contracting it.
Passengers and crew members of the cruise ship are now being tested for the new coronavirus before they’re allowed to disembark.
That death was the first in California and 12th in the nation as a result of COVID-19.
While the ship is offshore, the coast guard is helicoptering in tests for the new coronavirus in order to test crew members and passengers with respiratory symptoms.
The governor of California has now declared a state of emergency to better deal with the outbreak.
“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our healthcare system in the event it spreads more broadly.”
Health officials have been trying to stop the virus from spreading widely in the United States, but multiple cases of unknown origin have been detected in California, Washington, and Oregon.
In Washington state, the health department reported that 10 people have died. Many people who died had been at a nearby nursing home where the virus appears to have spread.
“This is a tragic loss of life and we share our heartfelt condolences with the family,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for public health, Seattle & King County, said after the first death reported.
Officials likely have a dwindling amount of time to stop the virus from becoming a pandemic.
A new summary found that one way to slow the disease may be by simply getting a thorough travel history from patients.
More than 101,000 people have contracted the virus first detected in December.
While first seen in China, now the disease has been found to be spreading in multiple countries, including South Korea, Iran, and Italy.
More than 3,400 people have died from the virus globally. The vast majority of people who have contracted it and died are in China.
But new clusters in Europe and the Middle East have experts worried. Recently, for the first time, more cases of the disease were reported outside of China.
More people have died from this new coronavirus in 3 months than in the entire duration of the SARS outbreak.
However, the overall death rate is still much lower for this virus (around 2 to 3 percent) than the SARS virus (around 10 percent).
Other updates on the outbreak can be found here.
In a press briefing, officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the fatality rate for the new coronavirus may be higher than previously realized.
Dr. Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said in a statement that COVID-19 doesn’t appear to spread as efficiently as the flu.
“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics,” he said.
But it may be more deadly.
“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” he said. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”
He pointed out one reason for those different fatality rates is that there are vaccines and antiviral medications to help treat flu symptoms. But nothing yet for COVID-19.
Additionally, he said that according to evidence from China, only 1 percent of COVID-19 cases have no symptoms, and many people develop symptoms later on.
As the outbreak continues to spread, there are ways you can prepare. Among them is simply stocking up your medicine cabinet with over-the-counter cold and flu medications.
While they can’t cure the virus, they can help relieve symptoms of mild cases.
On Feb. 28, the WHO raised the threat assessment of the coronavirus to its highest level.
WHO Director-General Dr. Ghebreyesus briefed reporters on the status of the outbreak.
“We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread to and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level,” he said.
However, Ghebreyesus reported that the virus doesn’t appear to be spreading so rapidly that it can’t be stopped yet.
“Most cases can still be [traced] to known contacts or clusters of cases. We do not see evidence as of yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities, as long as that is the case we still have a chance of containing this virus,” he said.
Researchers from Mount Sinai confirm they can use CT scans to speed diagnosis of individuals with symptoms of COVID-19.
A lack of testing in the United States had drawn concern from experts worried that officials may be missing people who could have contracted the virus.
Testing kits from the CDC were delayed after issues were found in results during quality control testing. Without access to test kits, samples had to be sent to CDC headquarters, delaying test results.
The New York–based researchers published their findings in the journal Radiology.
In 33 patients scanned 3 to 5 days after symptoms, the radiologists detected hazy findings in the lungs called “ground glass opacities,” indicative of the disease. Patients examined 6 to 12 days afterward universally showed signs of lung disease.
“If coronavirus should continue to spread and impact the United States or elsewhere more significantly, this study equips radiologists with the knowledge to recognize and more confidently suggest if a patient has COVID-19 or pneumonia due to another cause,” said co-author Michael Chung, MD, assistant professor of diagnostic, molecular, and interventional radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine, in a statement.
However, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) analyzed records of China’s reported cases of COVID-19 from Dec. 8 to Feb. 11 to find that a little more than 1 percent of people with the virus showed no sign of infection.
Researchers are studying how people with the virus shed it and what impact it’s having on affected populations.
One new study has found answers that many won’t find comforting.
Testing and confirmation of novel coronavirus infection is currently carried out by oral swabs. But research published Feb. 17 in Emerging Microbes & Infections finds evidence that there’s an oral-fecal transmission route.
The scientists reported that viruses’ genetic material can be detected in both anal swabs and blood samples. Crucially, evidence of the new coronavirus was found in anal swabs and blood — even when it wasn’t detected using oral swabs.
According to the study, this was particularly true for those patients receiving supportive care for several days.
Although medical staff, people with illnesses, and older adults are most at risk, more than 80 percent of COVID-19 cases have been mild, according to a new report from the Chinese CDC.
Hubei province in China, where the infection is believed to have originated, is the hardest hit, according to the report.
The province’s death rate is almost 3 percent, compared with just under a half percent in the rest of the country.
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illnesses like COVID-19 or the flu is simple: Encourage employees to stay home when they’re sick.
But since the United States doesn’t have a national paid sick leave policy, taking a sick day remains a financial sacrifice for 32 million workers who lack paid sick leave benefits.
Without paid sick leave, workers are more likely to come into work sick, exposing their co-workers to an illness. This means if COVID-19 starts spreading widely in the United States, it could be difficult to stop.
The extremely infectious coronavirus sweeping through China’s Hubei province will become a “community virus” in the United States, if not this year, then the next, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN.
“This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission,” Redfield said. “Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode.”
Redfield emphasized that the CDC doesn’t have any evidence that coronavirus is “really embedded in the community at this time, but with that said, we want to intensify our surveillance so that we’re basing those conclusions based on data.”
The WHO announced Feb. 11 in a tweet that the disease from this new coronavirus will now be called COVID-19.
Previously, it had been called 2019nCoV, although many media outlets referred to the virus simply as coronavirus — even though that refers to a larger family of viruses.
“There’ve been some concerning instances of onward 2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to [China]. The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg,” tweeted Ghebreyesus on Feb. 9.
The WHO already declared a global public health emergency last month in response to the outbreak.
Experts are still learning a lot about this new virus. But some have hoped that warmer weather will mean a drop in cases, similar to how flu season ends in the spring.
But medical experts warn it’s too soon to tell whether the coronavirus outbreak will diminish this summer. Because it’s a totally new virus, people lack immunity, so even in warm weather months it may still spread across the globe.
Since the virus is so new, there’s currently no cure for the disease. But doctors have been able to use supportive care and other antivirals to try and help patients.
Early studies show some evidence that certain medications, including those that treat HIV, may help fight the virus.
Multiple organizations are already working on a vaccine for the new coronavirus, but it’s unlikely to be widely released within the year.
That’s because rigorous testing is needed to ensure that the vaccine is both safe and effective.
Experts are still investigating, but early research suggests the virus originated in bats and then was transmitted to humans via an intermediary animal.
What’s the intermediary animal? Potentially a snake or type of anteater called a pangolin.
A global outbreak of a new virus is frightening enough for adults. For kids, it can be overwhelming.
We talked to experts about the best way for parents to talk to their kids about what’s going on and how to reassure them.
Parents should also check in with themselves and consider how their fears may be influencing their children.
“When a parent is anxious, their child is going to feel that anxiety and take it on, regardless of how well they think they mask or hide their anxiety,” said Haley Neidich, a licensed mental health professional and practicing psychotherapist.