What is Coronavirus – the illness that started in Wuhan?
It is caused by a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals. This virus is 96% identical to the Coronavirus found in bats. Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city. This has led to speculation that the virus was contracted by people eating infected bats. Bat meat is a delicacy in some parts of China, Indonesia and other parts of Asia. The Huanan seafood market which is suspected to have spread the virus was dealing in the sale of bat meat, snake meat, pangolins and other wildlife that are delicacies in China. The market has been shut down and the sale of wild animals suspended in China.
What are the symptoms this coronavirus causes?
The virus can cause pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.
Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?
China’s national health commission has confirmed human-to-human transmission, and there have been such transmissions elsewhere. In fact, coronavirus seems to be a highly virulent and aggressive disease. Although governments everywhere are telling people not to panic and even comparing it to the ordinary winter flu, observant people have noted that doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients wear bioharzard suits. Also, any planes, houses or vehicles that are suspected to have been used by Coronavirus patients are sprayed with heavy chemicals and deeply cleaned.
How many people have been affected?
As of 5 March, the global death toll is 3,190, while more than 93,000 people have been infected in more than 80 countries. In China there have been 2,981 deaths, and there are 80,270 cases in all. South Korea, the nation worst hit by the outbreak outside China, has had 5,328 cases. More than 44,000 people in China have recovered from Covid-19. However, these figures are changing very rapidly as the infection spreads.
Coronavirus map: how Covid-19 is spreading across the world
The virus has now spread across the world with South Korea, Italy and Iran now the hotspots for the virus outside of China. A number of people have died from the virus in Italy, the United States, South Korea and it is expected more will die if the virus is not contained very soon. The biggest numbers of casualties is from Wuhan, China which was the epicenter of the outbreak.