CDC Coronavirus Update as of January 31, 2020

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2019 Novel Coronavirus

How 2019-nCoV Spreads

Much is unknown about how 2019-nCoV, a new coronavirus, spreads. Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERSSARS, and now with 2019-nCoV.

Most often, spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Typically, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). With 2019-nCoV, however, there have been reports external icon of spread from an infected patient with no symptoms to a close contact.

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing. This information will further inform the risk assessment. Read the latest 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China situation summary

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    Here’s What Scientists Do And Don’t Know About Wuhan Coronavirus So Far


    29 JAN 2020

    How deadly and how contagious is the coronavirus? When do symptoms appear, and can a patient spread the virus before they do? Experts are zeroing in on these and other questions, but clear answers are not yet at hand.

    The toll so far

    As of Wednesday, some 6,000 cases have been confirmed in China, its country of origin, with at least 132 fatalities.

    The virus has spread from the city of Wuhan across China to more that 15 countries, with about 60 cases in Asia, Europe, North America and, most recently, the Middle East.

    No deaths have been attributed to the virus outside China.

    2019-nCoV, as it has been named, is part of the coronavirus family, the source of two previous deadly epidemics.

    The 2002/03 SARS outbreak (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) started in Guangdong Province and killed 774 people out of a total 8,096 infected. The 2012 MERS outbreak (Middle East respiratory syndrome) killed 858 people out of the 2,494 infected.

    The respective mortality rates for SARS and MERS patients was 9.5 and 34.5 percent, far higher that for the new coronavirus, which French health minister Agnes Buzyn put at “less than five percent”.

    That rate is likely to decline, experts say, as the ratio of deaths to reported cases continues to widen.

    The coronavirus “is less deadly than SARS or MERS, but it is more contagious,” Buzyn said in a press conference Tuesday.

    The seasonal flu, by comparison, kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the United States, the mortality rate among people infected with influenza is about 0.13 percent, the Centers for Disease Control has calculated.

    How contagious?

    Estimates of how easily coronavirus spreads range from a “base reproduction rate” of 1.4 to 3.8 people infected by a single patient, according to David Fisman, a professor at the University of Toronto.

    Chinese scientists, however, have said that one patient, on average, will have spread the virus to 5.5 other people.

    “If that proves to be accurate, it would in part explain the surprisingly swift growth of cases in Hubei and beyond, and suggests that China is in for a very rough ride,” said Stephen Morrison from the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.

    But the increase in reported cases could also come from “an improved detection capacity in hospitals,” suggest Buzyn.

    Scientists at Britain’s Imperial College, meanwhile, estimate that each coronavirus patient infects on average 2.6 others – making it roughly as infectious as annual influenza outbreaks.

    When is it contagious?

    This crucial question remains unanswered.

    On Sunday, Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s National Health Commission, said that transmission of coronavirus is possible before symptoms set in, during the disease’s incubation period.

    That is also true for the seasonal flu, but was not the case for SARS.

    This remains a working hypothesis, and has yet to be confirmed, some experts said.

    “In my view it is premature to conclude, on the basis of the evidence currently available, that the new virus can be transmitted before symptoms appear,” said Mark Woolhouse, professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, at the University of Edinburgh.

    “In the absence of any treatment or vaccine our main hope of controlling the epidemic is the rapid identification of cases and the immediate prevention of onward transmission through patient isolation,” he added.

    “The efficacy of those interventions would be compromised if significant levels of transmission occurred before symptoms appeared and the patient reported to a health care facility.”

    Person-to-person transmission

    The virus is thought to have originated from a wild animals, probably bats, but is now spreading from person to person.

    Almost all cases of such transmission have occurred in China, but there have also been a handful of cases in Vietnam, Germany and Japan.

    “Globally, there have been only a few scattered, individual cases of onward, secondary transmission,” said Morrison. “The risk remains very low to the United States and other advanced economies.”

    But that situation could be different in other parts of the world.

    “If export occurs to countries in Africa and elsewhere where there are limited health security capacities, grave secondary outbreaks could emerge outside of China,” Morrison added.

    What are the symptoms?

    Chinese scientists reported in The Lancet Friday that, based on a study of 41 early-detected cases, some of the new virus’s symptoms resemble those of SARS.

    All patients had pneumonia, most had a fever, three-quarters of them were coughing and more than half had trouble breathing.

    There are, however, some “important differences,” said lead author Bin Lao.

    Identifying coronavirus symptoms is all the more important – and difficult – because of a simultaneous epidemic of seasonal flu, which has similar symptoms.

    Incubation period

    On Monday, the WHO estimated an incubation period of two to ten days. Among 34 patients examined by researchers from the Netherlands, the average period was 5.8 days.

    For a 27-year-old man in Vietnam infected by his father, who had been in Wuhan, symptoms appeared after only three days, according to a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    As a precaution, health authorities in France and other countries have set an isolation period of 14 days for repatriated nationals and other people coming from the coronavirus hot zone.

    Avoiding infection

    Health authorities and scientists say the standard precautions against viral illnesses are applicable: wash your hands frequently, cover up your coughs, try not to touch your face.

    Anyone who does come down with the virus should be placed in isolation.

    “Considering that substantial numbers of patients with SARS and MERS were infected in health-care settings”, precautions need to be taken to prevent that happening again, the Chinese team warned in The Lancet.


    How does coronavirus spread and how can you protect yourself?

    The 2019-nCoV coronavirus spreads from person-to-person in close proximity, similar to other respiratory illnesses.

    by Ruairi Casey

    January 31, 2020

    WHO has designated the outbreak with its highest warning level [Kevin Frayer/Getty Images]


    Almost 10,000 people have been infected by the new coronavirus, which continues to spread to more countries since it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in early December.

    More than 200 people have died so far, all in China and almost all in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.


    Here is what you need to know about how the virus spreads:

    How is the coronavirus spreading?

    The 2019-nCoV coronavirus spreads from person to person in close proximity, similar to other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.

    The disease can be transmitted through sneezing or coughing, which disperses droplets of body fluids such as saliva or mucus.

    According to scientists, coughs and sneezes can travel several feet and stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes.

    These droplets can come into direct contact with other people, or can infect those who pick them up by touching surfaces on which the infected droplets land, or touching a surface and then their face.

    It is not yet know how long the virus can survive on surfaces, but in other viruses, the range is between a few hours or months.

    Transmission is of particular concern on transport, where droplets containing the coronavirus could pass between passengers or via surfaces like plane seats and armrests.

    The incubation period of the coronavirus, the length of time before symptoms appear, is between one and 14 days.

    Though not yet confirmed, Chinese health authorities believe the virus can be transmitted before symptoms appear.

    This would have major implications for containment measures, according to Gerard Krause, head of the Department for Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection.

    “It’s unusual for respiratory diseases transmissible even before the first symptoms have occurred,” he told Al Jazeera.

    “But the consequences is that if it happens then they have no public health means sort out or to identify people at risk of transmitting, because they don’t even know that they’re ill yet.”

    Can people be immune to the new coronavirus?

    Viruses that spread quickly usually come with lower mortality rates and vice versa.

    Although the total number of deaths has risen, the current death rate stands at about 2.4 percent – this is lower than first feared and well below severe acute respiratory syndrome, another coronavirus that broke out between 2002 and 2003, which killed 9.6 percent of those infected.

    As the virus is an entirely new strain, there is no existing immunity in anyone it will encounter.

    Some level of immunity will naturally develop over time, but this means that those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly or sick, are most at risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the coronavirus.

    How can people protect themselves? Are face masks useful?

    In terms of self-protection and containing the virus, experts agree that is important to wash hands thoroughly with soap; cover your face when coughing or sneezing; visit a doctor if you have symptoms and avoid direct contact with live animals in affected areas.

    While face masks are popular, scientists doubt their effectiveness against airborne viruses.

    They may provide some protection to you and others, but they are loose and made of permeable material, meaning droplets can still pass through.

    Some countries, such as the UK and Nigeria, have advised people travelling back from China to self-quarantine for at least two weeks.

    What is being done to stop the coronavirus spread, and when will a vaccine become available?

    China has placed Wuhan and more than a dozen other cities under lockdown, affecting more than 50 million people, although this has not prevented the virus from spreading to all of China’s provinces.

    As the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, businesses and countries are taking increasingly drastic action.

    READ MORE coronavirus: All you need to know in 500 words

    Several airlines have halted flights to China, from British to African carriers, while a number of European and Asian nations are evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.

    Russia will close its border with China.

    Person-to-person transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Canada, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan, which WHO emergency chief Michael Ryan has called a “great concern”.

    Even with recent advancements in medical technology, it is unlikely a vaccine could be available for mass distribution within a year.

    This means that public health measures to contain the spread will be crucial to contain the outbreak.

    Restrictions on movement will not stop the spread of the disease entirely, but will slow its progress and buy time for areas that have avoided infection to prepare. It will also limit the strain on health infrastructure by reducing the number of infections at any one time, said Krause.

    How serious is this epidemic?

    Given the response and effect, the new coronavirus is being treated as a serious concern.

    The infection is now more widespread than the 2002-03 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) episode, which also originated in China, in terms of affected people but not deaths.

    The World Health Organization has designated the outbreak with its highest warning level, as it has for five others, including Ebola in 2014 and 2019, polio in 2014, the Zika virus in 2016 and swine flu in 2009. STORY   

    Wuhan coronavirus: A new pandemic?


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