Public Health Concerns as New Coronavirus Spreads

A coronavirus, which started in December from a seafood market in Wuhan China, continues to spread, concerning public health officials with the possibility that it could become a pandemic. The outbreak has led to cases in five countries. Thailand has claimed 4 cases, while Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have all claimed 1 case. In total, there have been about 440 confirmed cases and 17 deaths.

Passengers wear masks to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus in a subway station, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 (Source: AP Photo).

Coronavirus comes from the same virus that causes the common cold as well as more serious viruses, such as SARS. Some experts have described similarities with Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) as it doesn’t spread easily between humans and started with animals. However, there is now concern that the coronavirus is spreading more easily through human to human contact and does not need an animal to cause the infection.

On January 22nd, the World Health Organization is meeting to discuss whether to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Preventative measures are being taken, including screening at airports in busy cities.

It is still too early to tell how the deadly the virus will be and how it will compare with other pandemics, including SARS and MERS.

Read more at AP News.

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