Another six Americans quarantined in Texas have tested positive for the corona virus that is now in danger of rising to pandemic levels, health workers in San Antonio said Monday.
With the addition of these new patients – including six evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and one from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China – the number of Americans with corona virus has risen to 53.
Despite the fact that the number of cases has more than tripled in 10 days, President Donald Trump tweeted confidently that “the Corona virus in the US is very well under control.”
He also assured Americans through the social media platform that the stock market is starting to look “very good to me,” despite the thousand points of the Dow, for which the fear of coronavirus is generally attributed.
It also occurs when senior officials told the Associated Press that the White House plans to request $ 130 million in emergency funding to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Cases of coronavirus and deaths in China appear encouraging, but the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that, although it hesitates to use the word “pandemic,” the outbreak is shaking.
And after a controversial decision to repatriate 14 US cruise passengers whose test results returned positively when they boarded evacuation flights from Japan to the US, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials warned that the “very likely” coronavirus will begin to spread in American communities.
A total of 53 people in the US now have a corona virus, while officials in San Antonio Texas confirmed that another six evacuees – five from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and one from Wuhan – have the infection that has made nearly 80.00 people sick worldwide
Foreign ministry officials defended their decision to return the 14 people who tested positive for the corona virus in Japan to the US with uninfected passengers against CDC warnings at a press conference on Friday, pointing out the 328 passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess and were stuck waiting to go home on buses (photo)
Health officials warned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to let 14 American Diamond Princess cruise passengers, who tested positive in addition to healthy passengers in Japan, fear that the virus would spread.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs set aside the warning warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and flew all 328 evacuees back together on two planes.
Now 18 of those passengers are positive for the deadly coronavirus that killed 2,250 people worldwide, CDC officials confirmed on Friday.
Sources involved in the decision told the Washington Post that CDC strongly warned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against the transport of infected and uninfected people side by side, but were eventually ignored.
“It was like the worst nightmare,” said a senior American official involved in the decision, who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity.
“Honestly, the alternative could have pulled grandma out in the pouring rain, and that would have been bad.”
Now those 328 passengers are all back on American soil after spending more than two weeks on the cruise ship that has become the closest infected place in the world outside of China.
When asked about the conflict between the two agencies during a press conference on Friday, CDC spokesman Nancy Messonnier briefly presented the US Department of Foreign Affairs.
“It is important to remember that this was an emerging and unusual circumstance,” said Ian Brownlee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office for Consular Affairs.
‘We had 328 people on buses, a plan to implement and we received laboratory results from people who were otherwise asymptomatic, non-sick people on a bus on the way to the airport.
“The people on the ground have done just the right thing … to bring them home.”
People who had tested positive were placed in isolation units on board the two cargo planes, which then flew to San Antonio – Lackland Joint Base in Texas and Travis Air Base in California.
Although officials reassured the press that the sick passengers had been thoroughly locked in and all precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of the healthy people on board, later reports emerged that people on flights had no idea they had an even more confined space individuals shared with infected people.
When the planes landed at their respective destinations late on Sunday evening, six high-risk passengers from Lackland and seven from Travis were taken to an additional flight to Omaha Eppley Airfield in Nebraska.
Eleven of the 13 American passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who were considered “high risk” for coronavirus have confirmed to have the infection that is spreading to nearly 80,000 people around the world.
Twelve of those 13 passengers were detained at the National Quarantine Center in Omaha, Nebraska, while one was immediately transferred to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit because they had developed symptoms of the virus and had an underlying condition.
All 11 new cases were confirmed on Thursday by the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the other two passengers tested negative at UNMC.
Meanwhile, 16 of the ship’s more than 300 other evacuees that were symptom-free and quarantined at Travis Air Force Base, later developed signs of the virus and were transferred to hospitals where they can be isolated, checked and treated.
Four people were transported to the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, which is specially equipped to treat dangerous infectious diseases in the US and another two are expected to be brought for isolation, spokesman Christa Arguinchona told AP on Thursday.
Eleven of the 13 ‘risky’ evacuees of the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan were brought to Nebraska for quarantine, including Carl Goldman (photo), who developed symptoms with an underlying condition, and was transferred to a biocontainment unit, according to his woman. Now 11 of them have tested positive for coronavirus
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that after the evacuees were placed in buses to the airport, 14 people who showed no symptoms had tested positive for the virus – and were then placed in isolation rooms (photo)
With 11 new confirmed cases among the evacuees of Omaha, Nebraska, there are now 27 cases of coronavirus in eight US states
Officials on Monday morning confirmed that 14 of the passengers who had been evacuated to the US had tested positive for corona virus, but were still allowed to fly – in isolated rooms – on board the same aircraft as passengers who were negative for the virus.
One passenger was transported to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit after landing on Eppely Air Field after he had a cough and a light feeling in the head. Local officials said the person has a chronic health condition, but have not indicated what kind.
Later, Seratti-Goldman, an evacuee from California, claimed that that person was her husband, Carl Goldman, who has Guillain-Barré syndrome, got an autoimmune disease and fever on the plane and was unable to walk when they landed.
The biocontainment unit of the University of Nebraska Medical Center is one of only three such facilities in the nation that are considered qualified to treat Ebola outbreak patients that infected 11 Americans in 2014.
All 13 high-risk passengers were re-tested for the corona virus. Six were flown to Nebraska after landing at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California just before 11.30pm Sunday night and another seven were brought to quarantine after landing at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, hours later.
It is not yet clear what kind of ‘care’ patients have received while they were isolated, although doctors in the US and abroad are experimentally using antiviral drugs, a drug developed to treat ebola, supportive therapies (such as IV- liquids and respirators) and, in China, plasma transfusions.
Since arrival, the 12 quarantined passengers have been isolated in their rooms, said Shelly Schwedhelm, an official at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in a press conference.
It also remains unclear which protocols were applied to the remaining patients who tested positive for coronavirus – about four – before they left Japan at the weekend to flee the ship where more than 454 people are now infected with the potentially deadly virus after another 99 cases were confirmed on Monday.
The Nebraska Biocontainment Unit is one of only three in the US designated to contain and treat patients with Ebola during the 2014 outbreak affecting 11 Americans, including one, who was transported here to the facility
Employees of the Nebraska Biocontainment unit practice a topic (a member of the Air Force service) in one of the specialized rooms where one of the 13 Princess Princess high-risk coronavirus evacuees was placed after arriving at Eppely Air Field in Omaha on Monday. The other 12 patients are in quarantine
Fourteen of the evacuees were placed in isolation chambers aboard their evacuation flights when officials realized they had tested positive for the deadly virus.
The first 747 aircraft landed at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California, just before 11:30 am on Sunday local time, before the second aircraft arrived a few hours later at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
The passengers were all considered ‘fit to fly’ and showed no symptoms before they left the cruise ship. When the evacuees were brought to the airport in Tokyo, the results of tests that had been carried out two to three days earlier came back and showed that the 14 passengers had the infection.
Although the US said earlier that no infected passenger would be allowed to leave, those who tested positive were still allowed to board the aircraft because they had no symptoms. The Foreign Ministry said they were isolated separately from other passengers on the flights.
Health officials of the CDC discourage the transportation of the 14 people who are positive for the corona virus, but ultimately the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The US said it had arranged the evacuation because people at the Diamond Princess were at high risk of being exposed to the virus, since more than 450 passengers have tested positive since the cruise ship was quarantined on February 4.
While countries freed their respective citizens from the cruise ship, which is by far the largest cluster of corona virus cases outside of China, around 3,000 people who spent the last two weeks or more in high-risk environments were blowing around the world.
Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) officials have warned that people can be asymptomatic, can test negative for the corona virus and can develop later. They and experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) have also warned that even asymptomatic people may have and transmit the virus.
And that makes some experts very worried.
“There is a possibility that anyone who is infected and asymptomatic can start an infection chain wherever they return,” Dr. said. Stanley Deresinkski, professor and specialist in infectious diseases at Stanford University Fortune.
He referred to passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship, currently in Cambodia, but prepared for the return home, despite the fact that an 84-year-old American woman on board was diagnosed with coronavirus, but the same could certainly apply to the Diamond Princess, by far the largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside of China.
A second plane with Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess ship arrives at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas after flying back from Tokyo
One of the two planes that 340 Americans were returning from Japan to the US, where they spent nearly two weeks under corona virus quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, landed on Travis Air Force Base in California (photo)
The sick passengers were allowed to continue the flight, but in the isolation rooms (photo), and after landing they will be treated separately for the other passengers for treatment
340 Americans decided to leave the ship and take the charter flights from the government back to the US, where they will be under extra quarantine for two more 14 days at two military bases
DIAMOND PRINCESS SAGA: TIME LINE OF CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
February 4: Japan announced that 10 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship had been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The ship, which carried more than 3,700 passengers, was placed in quarantine.
15 February: US authorities announced they would deliver two planes to return the 380 Americans aboard the ship to the United States.
February 16: Officials revealed 454 passengers were now infected on the ship, including about 62 Americans.
Japanese authorities, dressed in head-to-toe protective suits, began transporting around 340 Americans to the airport in Tokyo in a convoy of 14 buses.
When the evacuees were brought to the airport in Tokyo, the results of tests that had been carried out two to three days earlier came back and showed that the 14 passengers had the infection.
Despite the fact that the US said earlier that no infected passenger should be allowed to leave, those who tested positive were still allowed to board the aircraft separately because they had no symptoms.
February 17: The two planes land at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California and Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
All passengers still have to quarantine for 14 days in the military facilities – which means that they will have been in quarantine for almost four weeks in total.
February 19: The 14-day quarantine for the ship is expected to be lifted.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that an infected person with minimal symptoms can still pass the virus on to someone else.
It came when Japanese officials confirmed that an additional 99 people had been infected by the virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship, bringing the total to 454. At least 62 Americans are among the infected, but it is unclear whether that figure includes the 14 that have been evacuated.
The United States was the first country to evacuate its passengers from the ship. Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar passenger flights.
More than 73,000 people are now infected with the virus worldwide, while 1,873 people have died from it. In general, Japan has 419 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death. The United States has confirmed 15 cases within the country. Apart from that, an American citizen died in China.
US authorities had announced on Saturday that they would allow the 380 Americans on board to leave the ship. The evacuation was not mandatory, but the Americans who chose not to leave the ship were warned that they could not return to the US for a period to be determined later by the Centers for Disease Control.
Those who arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California have been told that they are being quarantined at the Westwind Inn on the base, in the same place where those evacuated from Wuhan are being held. They are kept in a separate part of the building for those who are already in quarantine.
The Americans who did evacuate the ship said they were frustrated with the extra two-week quarantine in the US because they believed they could be free from the Diamond Princess if the ship’s quarantine was lifted on Wednesday.
“It’s like a prison sentence for something I didn’t do,” said passenger Karey Mansicalco CNN from her cabin. “They hold us hostage for no reason.”
“In cargo plane. You can’t imagine. Crazy or worst dream ever, “wrote the American evacuee Gay Courter on Facebook after boarding one of the flights at Tokyo International Airport.
Her husband Philip added: ‘Huge B-747 cargo plane without windows with some bolted seats. Destination unknown at the moment. ”
Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky, a couple from Syracuse, New York, chose to swap one coronavirus quarantine for another, leaving the cruise ship to fly back to the US Cheryl Molesky said the rising number of patients on the ship account kept up with the decision.
“We’re glad we’re going home,” Cheryl Molesky told NHK TV in Japan earlier. “It’s just a little disappointing that we have to go through quarantine again and we probably won’t be as comfortable as the Diamond Princess, possibly.”
When they finally boarded the plane with other Americans, Cheryl said, “Well, we’re exhausted, but we’re on the plane and that’s a good feeling.” Pretty miserable with these masks, and everyone had to take the bus to the toilet. ”
Japan said 340 Americans were being taken to Tokyo airport to be evacuated, while another who had already been diagnosed had to stay behind for treatment. A handful of others chose to stay
Passengers aboard the 747 cargo plane were able to take photos when they returned to America, detained on the cruise ship since February 3
Buses with American passengers aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, seen in the background, leave the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, early Monday. The cruise ship transported nearly 3,500 passengers and crew members
Passengers are seen aboard one of the two planes en route to the US at Haneda airport in Tokyo, late Sunday after they had evacuated the Diamond Princess cruise ship
A bus with American passengers aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo before the passengers board a Kalitta aircraft chartered by the US government
Other Americans aboard the cruise ship refused to evacuate the Diamond Princess, despite the warning that they would have to wait another two weeks and test negative for the virus before returning to the United States.
They feared on a long flight with other passengers who might be infected or in an incubation period.
“My health is good. And my two-week quarantine is almost over. Why would I want to be put on a bus and a plane with other people they think are infected if I have been isolated from those people for almost two weeks? “Matt Smith, an American lawyer on the ship with his wife, tweeted.
He described a fellow American passenger standing on her balcony and singing “US, US” while buses arrived to pick them up.
“Of course, contrary to the rules of quarantine, she’s not wearing a face mask and talking to a passenger on the adjoining balcony … And did you want me to get on the bus with her?”
He said American officials in hazmat suits and face masks had visited his room to check if he would disembark, but he said he wanted to stay.
Later, when Smith heard that 14 infected passengers were still allowed to board the flights, he tweeted: “OMG! US Gov’t said they would not put anyone on the planes that were symptomatic, and they deliberately and intentionally arrived 14 people who actually had the virus. Decision not to be evacuated = best decision ever! ”
Japanese authorities, dressed in head-to-toe protective suits, helped transport the Americans to the airport in Tokyo in a convoy of 14 buses.
Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky, a couple from Syracuse, New York, said after boarding: ‘Well, we are exhausted, but we are on the plane and that is a good feeling. Pretty miserable with these masks, and everyone had to take the bus to the toilet. “
Americans who have evacuated the cruise ship are pictured aboard one of the two planes that brought them back to the US.
Die Amerikanen die ervoor kozen de Diamond Princess te verlaten, worden gezien in een gecharterd evacuatievliegtuig om terug te vliegen naar de VS.
Phil Courter, een Amerikaanse passagier aan boord van het Diamond Princess-cruiseschip, draagt een gezichtsmasker op een gecharterd evacuatievliegtuig om terug te vliegen naar de Verenigde Staten op de luchthaven Haneda in Japan
Gezondheidsambtenaren in beschermende pakken worden gezien als passagiers die aan boord gaan van de evacuatievluchten in Tokio
De Amerikaanse Sarah Arana, een 52-jarige medische maatschappelijk werkster, zei dat er geen gezondheidscontroles waren toen ze een geïmproviseerde paspoortcontrole doormaakten.
Ze zei dat de Amerikaanse regering ‘veel eerder, in het begin’ had moeten handelen.
‘Ik ben blij en klaar om te gaan,’ zei Arana tegen AFP voordat ze het schip verliet. ‘We hebben een goede quarantaine nodig. Dit was het niet. ”
Over het vasteland van China, ambtenaren zei dat het totale aantal gevallen van coronavirus steeg met 2.048 tot 70.548. Dat waren iets meer nieuwe gevallen dan op zondag gemeld, maar honderden minder dan op zaterdag.
Chinese autoriteiten zeggen dat de stabilisatie van het aantal nieuwe gevallen een teken is dat maatregelen die zij hebben genomen om de verspreiding van de ziekte te stoppen effect hebben.
Epidemiologen zeggen echter dat het waarschijnlijk nog te vroeg is om te zeggen hoe goed de uitbraak zich bevindt in China en de centrale provincie Hubei, waar het virus voor het eerst verscheen.
China heeft op het COVID-19-virus gereageerd door de provinciale hoofdstad Wuhan, een megastad van 11 miljoen mensen, effectief te blokkeren.
Medische werkers in beschermende pakken verzorgen een patiënt in een geïsoleerde afdeling van het Wuhan Rode Kruisziekenhuis in Wuhan, het epicentrum van de nieuwe uitbraak van coronavirus
Medische medewerkers die een patiënt behandelen die is geïnfecteerd door het COVID-19-coronavirus in het Wuhan Rode Kruisziekenhuis in Wuhan in de centrale provincie Hubei in China
Kwam het coronavirus uit het Chinese overheidslaboratorium?
Chinese scientists believe the coronavirus may have started life in a research facility just 300 yards from the Wuhan fish market.
A new paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology says the Wuhan Center for Disease Control (WHCDC) could have spawned the contagion in Hubei province.
The paper, penned by scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, claims the WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in laboratories, including 605 bats.
It also mentions that bats – which are linked to coronavirus – once attacked a researcher and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’
The report says: ‘Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).’
It describes how the only native bats are found around 600 miles away from the Wuhan seafood market and that the probability of bats flying from Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces was minimal.
In addition there is little to suggest the local populace eat the bats as evidenced by testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors.
Instead the authors point to research being carried out withing a few hundred yards at the WHCDC.
One of the researchers at the WHCDC described quarantining himself for two weeks after a bat’s blood got on his skin, according to the report. That same man also quarantined himself after a bat urinated on him.
He also mentions discovering a live tick from a bat – parasites known for their ability to pass infections through a host animal’s blood.
‘The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital (Figure 1, bottom) where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic.’ The report says.
‘It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.’
Concerns remain about the global transmission, especially on cruise ships which appear to have become especially virulent breeding grounds.
Fears are growing for passengers on the Westerdam cruise ship, who all received a clean bill of health when they disembarked in Cambodia – a staunch ally of Beijing.
An 83-year-old American woman was stopped by authorities in Malaysia over the weekend when she was detected with a fever and later diagnosed with the virus.
There were more than 2,200 passengers and crew on the ship when it docked in Sihanoukville, many of whom have now dispersed around the globe.
With tourism battered and global supply chains disrupted by the virus, experts are fretting about the toll it could take on a fragile global economy.
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said there could be a cut of around 0.1-0.2 percentage points to global growth but stressed there was ‘still a great deal of uncertainty.’
Japan, one of the hardest-hit countries outside China irrespective of the Diamond Princess, suffered its biggest economic slump in more than five years – even before the coronavirus crisis. Gross domestic product in the world’s third-top economy shrank an eye-watering 1.6 percent in the three months to December – a much bigger contraction than economists had feared.
It comes after Chinese scientists revealed the deadly virus may have started life in a research facility just 300 yards from the Wuhan fish market.
A new bombshell paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology says that the Wuhan Center for Disease Control (WHCDC) could have spawned the contagion in Hubei province.
‘The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus,’ penned by scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao claims the WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in laboratories, including 605 bats.
It also mentions that bats – which are linked to coronavirus – once attacked a researcher and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’
The report says: ‘Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).’
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?
Someone who is infected with the corona virus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
Over 2,600 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 79,000 have been infected. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce themselves and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The corona virus from Wuhan is one that has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has been killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak ground in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that causes the virus has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr. Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: “Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
“Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new corona viruses that can infect humans and result in more severe illness (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new corona virus is not yet known. ‘
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Just a week after that, there were more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.
By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.
By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.
A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.
By February 24, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,600 had died.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to be originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals are being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic makeup virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a corona virus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal that acted as a middle man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr. Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: “The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
“We still do not know whether another species is served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.”
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr. Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case of fatality rate or less than one in 1,000 people. Here we are talking about a virus where we do not fully understand the severity spectrum but it is possible the case of fatality rate could be as high as two per cent. ‘
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
“My feeling is lower,” Dr. Horby added. “We’re probably missing this iceberg or milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
“Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.”
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people thought about catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realize it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The fixed majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the corona virus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to control it potentially may be extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyze it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
However, experts say the true number of patients is probably considerably higher and therefore the death rate is considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to that date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed, but also far more widespread.
Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients who are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the fixed majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill them.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the corona virus yet and it is not likely to be developed in time to be or any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up at an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold or one community such as a country or region.
Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr. Sylvie Briand, said, “Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci, ‘the Guardian reported.
She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicenter, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.