On Thursday, January 23, World Health Organizations (WHO) officials reconvened to announce that they did not yet consider the new coronavirus to be a global health emergency. CNBC reports that WHO officials say the virus, originating in China and producing flu-like symptoms that vary in severity, has caused 18 deaths so far. Person to person transmission has led to the spread of this virus, with 650 confirmed cases worldwide. That number is expected to increase as suspected cases are confirmed.
Chinese Cities Under Quarantine, Travel Bans
The origin of this coronavirus, now officially called 2019-nCoV, appears to be a seafood market in Wuhan, China. Live Science reports that, according to a very recent genetic sequencing study published in the Journal of Medical Virology, this virus “likely originated in snakes” before jumping to humans. Wuhan is currently under quarantine, along with the city of Huanggang. As of Thursday, travel bans were enacted for seven cities.
Coronavirus Spreading Out of China
The Washington Post reports that the virus has been found in Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the United States. In the US, a case has been confirmed in Washington and, according to a KHOU-11 news report, a Texas A&M student is currently being tested for the virus. Both individuals recently traveled from Wuhan to the US. KHOU-11 also reports that international airports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are currently screening incoming passengers on flights from Southeast Asia for coronavirus symptoms.
Symptoms and Severity Can Vary
Coronaviruses are a large viral group, ranging from the basic cold to much more severe viruses, like severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-cov). This coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has symptoms that range from mild to severe. In some patients, it may present as a bad cold, with the usual upper respiratory symptoms and fever. Others may experience symptoms more akin to the flu and may have gastrointestinal symptoms as well. Severe cases may have symptoms that include shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. The confirmed Washington case in and the suspected Texas case both seem currently to be of lesser severity.
Standard Virus Precautions Can Help
There’s not currently a vaccine available for 2019-nCoV. Developing vaccines takes time. However, there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself, much of it simple, standard virus protection procedures. Wash your hands frequently, as viruses can live on surfaces long enough to infect you. Avoid touching your mucus membranes – eyes, nose and mouth – especially in high risk areas, such as health care facilities. Avoid close contact with people displaying symptoms and stay out of crowds.
Be Proactive in Strengthening Immune System
The New York Times is reporting that most of the 2019-nCoV deaths involved older men who were already dealing with significant health issues. This is an important point to note. One of your best protections against this type of illness is to be proactive in strengthening your immune system function. Decrease, better yet, eliminate processed foods. Choose healthy whole foods instead. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Be sure to include fruits high in Vitamin C. Vitamin D is also essential for immune system function, so try to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine per day in addition to consuming Vitamin D rich foods. Make sure to get enough sleep. Give your immune system what it needs to do its job.