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CoronaVirus: News and Updates

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The coronavirus has infected more than 1,700 healthcare workers in China, killing 6 of them

As of Friday, 1,716 healthcare workers who were treating patients in China have been infected. Six are dead, National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin said at a news conference, according to Reuters.
 

A nurse wrote on Weibo that she is among almost 150 people who work at Wuhan Central Hospital and have either been infected or are suspected to have the coronavirus, CNN found.

 

The nurse added that she holds her breath when her fellow healthcare workers enter the room to check on her, saying, “I’m afraid the virus inside my body will come out and infect these colleagues who are still standing fast on the frontline.” Of the infected medical workers, 1,102 are located in Wuhan alone, and another 400 became ill elsewhere in the Hubei province.

 

Wuhan was the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in December and the threat level skyrocketed for multiple reasons, including a shortage of medical resources to handle the deluge of highly contagious patients.

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Not allowed to ‘eat, drink or use toilets’

For starters, China has less than two physicians for every 10,000 residents, the WHO found. Add to that a shortage of masks and protective gear and you have an additional strain on the already overworked medical staff, making them even more susceptible to the virus while treating patients on the frontline.

Even test kits were reserved only for patients with the most severe symptoms, the South China Morning Post reported. This hampered diagnoses and created a supply shortage, prompting patients to liken getting a kit to winning the lottery.

A medical worker puts on a protective suit before entering a sports centre which has been converted into a makeshift hospital to treat patients of the novel coronavirus, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 12, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Medical worker puts on protective suit before entering a sports centre which has been converted into a makeshift hospital to treat patients of the novel coronavirus, in Wuhan

 

The National Health Commission on Thursday provided a glimpse into the medical staff’s grim working conditions: To ward off hunger, the staff at Peking Union Medical College Hospital eat chocolate and eggs before starting longer-than-normal shifts. Also, clad in face masks, goggles, gloves, and protective gowns – which cause imprints and even scars – they’re not allowed to “eat, drink or use toilets” while on a shift in infectious disease wards, according to the National Health Commission.

Zhou Jun, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, added, “Time is so precious that they stay in the wards all time” because they lose time when using restrooms and taking off their protective gear, which in and of itself can’t be reused or wasted.

Huashan Hospital has given workers diapers, but Vice President Ma Xin said most don’t need them because “wearing the protective clothing, one will be drenched to the skin and then they don’t need to urinate much.”

No information, followed by misinformation

Up next is a lack of knowledge about the coronavirus so gastrointestinal symptoms weren’t initially recognised as warning signs. That allowing one coronavirus patient, who came to the hospital with abdominal issues and was sent to the surgical ward, to infect 10 medical staff in Wuhan.

Similarly, it wasn’t known that the coronavirus could spread from one person to another.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study of the first 425 coronavirus cases in Wuhan, revealing that seven health care workers had been diagnosed with the illness by January 11.

“There is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019,” the study says.

A nurse tears up as she talks about the situation in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. China on Thursday reported 254 new deaths and a spike in virus cases of 15,152, after the hardest-hit province of Hubei applied a new classification system that broadens the scope of diagnoses for the outbreak, which has spread to more than 20 countries. (Chinatopix Via AP)
 
A nurse tears up as she talks about the situation in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. China on Thursday reported 254 new deaths and a spike in virus cases of 15,152, after the hardest-hit province of Hubei applied a new classification system that broadens the scope of diagnoses for the outbreak, which has spread to more than 20 countries. (Chinatopix Via AP)

 

This issue went hand-in-glove with the Chinese government’s failure to report cases right away because CNN found the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission saying on January 11 that “as of now, no infection among medical staff has been found,” adding that there was “no clear evidence for human-to-human transmission.”

The fact that medical workers were among the patients was only revealed on January 20 when Zhong Nanshan, a government-appointed respiratory expert, said on CCTV on January 20 that the coronavirus could be transmitted between people, CNN reported. This dovetailed with the Lancet saying that the first patient likely began showing symptoms on December 1 – a full month before Chinese officials reported the illness to the WHO.

Li WenliangLi Wenliang, the doctor who who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the coronavirus outbreak died Friday, February 7, 2020, after coming down with the illness.
 

If anything, the government is accused of cracking down on the flow of information about the coronavirus. Poynter said citizens accused of spreading rumours were arrested, and TVB, a Hong Kong news outlet, said journalists, including one of its own, had been detained while trying to cover the outbreak.

This censoring triggered outrage when a whistleblower doctor,Li Wenliang, died of the coronavirus on February 7. He was silenced by police – and forced to sign a letter admitting to “making false comments” – for sounding the alarm to his medical school peers on December 30 about a respiratory illness that presented like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and had led to multiple people being quarantined at the Wuhan Central Hospital.

Nearly half a million people have come in contact with infected patients

As of Friday, the National Health Commission website doesn’t mention the infected healthcare workers – that information was revealed by the State Council at a briefing on medical workers’s safety, CNN said – but officials have disclosed a much higher number of possible cases than previously reported.

“So far, 493,067 people have been identified as having had close contact with infected patients. 177,984 are now under medical observation,” the website reads.

The memory of SARS haunts China and with good reason. By May 2003, 966 medical workers made up 18% of China’s 5,328 cases, its ministry said, CNN reported. For now at least, that percentage is much lower vis a vis the coronavirus with 1,716 sickened healthcare staff accounting for about 3% of confirmed cases.

Addressing that point on Friday, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said, “We’ve always known that healthcare workers are on the front line.” When looking at the “percentage of overall cases, although it’s a tragic situation for the health workers … it is a lower percentage than has occurred” in other outbreaks, he added.

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Tickler

Latest Study Suggests The New Coronavirus Is Also Spreading Via Feces

Diarrhea may be a secondary path of transmission for the novel coronavirus, scientists said Friday following the publication of the latest study reporting patients with abdominal symptoms and loose stool.

 

The primary path is believed to be virus-laden droplets from an infected person's cough, though researchers in early cases have said they focused heavily on patients with respiratory symptoms and may have overlooked those linked to the digestive tract.

 

A total of 14 out of 138 patients (10 percent) in a Wuhan hospital who were studied in the new paper by Chinese authors in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) initially presented with diarrhea and nausea one or two days prior to development of fever and labored breathing.

 

The first US patient diagnosed with 2019-nCoV also experienced loose bowel movements for two days and the virus was subsequently detected in his stool, and there have been other such cases in China documented in the Lancet, albeit infrequently.

"Importantly, 2019-nCoV has been reported elsewhere in the feces of patients with atypical abdominal symptoms, similar to SARS which was also shed in urine, suggesting a fecal transmission route which is highly transmissible," William Keevil, a professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton said in a comment to the UK's Science Media Centre.

 

The possibility is not totally surprising to scientists, given that the new virus belongs to the same family as SARS.

 

Fecal transmission of SARS was implicated in sickening hundreds in Hong Kong's Amoy Gardens housing estate in 2003. A rising plume of warm air originating in bathrooms contaminated several apartments and was transported by wind to adjacent buildings in the complex.

Based on the literature, "The 2019-nCoV virus found in stool may be transmitted through fecal spread," added Jiayu Liao, a bioengineer at the University of California, Riverside.

 

But, he added, "We still do not know how long this virus can survive outside the body - HIV can only survive roughly 30 minutes outside the body - and what temperature range the 2019-nCoV is sensitive to."

 

Fecal spread could present new challenges to the virus's containment, but is more likely to be a problem inside hospitals, which can become "amplifiers" of epidemics, said David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto.

 

Benjamin Neuman, a virology expert at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, cautioned that while fecal transmission was "certainly worth considering," "droplets and touching contaminated surfaces then rubbing eyes, nose or mouth" were likely the main way the virus was transmitted based on current data.

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Tickler

People aren't following advice to contain the virus

The first person confirmed to have the deadly coronavirus in London turned up unannounced at a hospital after taking an Uber there, health officials confirmed to The Guardian.

 

The unidentified patient, a woman who recently arrived from China, had “self-presented” herself to the A&E department at Lewisham hospital in the southeast of the city on Sunday, February 9, after falling ill.

 

A public health body said the chances the Uber driver could have got the virus are low, and all staff who came into contact with the patient have been traced, with two members being sent home to be in isolation for a 14-day period.

 

But the hospital confirmed in an email published by The Guardian that the woman ignored public health officials’ advice by not arriving in an ambulance or in her own private vehicle. She also did not call the NHS 111 advice service, which has been recommended to those who think they are developing symptoms of the virus.

 

The woman was sent home pending the results of her test before being taken to another hospital in London, St Thomas’, for treatment on Wednesday, Sky News reported. The woman is the first recorded case of coronavirus in London.

 
Ben Travis, the chief executive of branch of the National Health Service (NHS) trust that covers Lewisham, described what happened to the patient in a message to staff published by The Guardian.

“In this case, the patient self-presented at our A&E. As soon as the patient did this, the patient was given a mask and then escorted to be tested in the dedicated area we have assigned for coronavirus testing outside the A&E building – while awaiting the installation of a purpose-built ‘pod’.

 

“As further assessment was required, the patient was then taken to a dedicated isolation room in the emergency department. In line with our protocols, throughout their care the patient was escorted and did not come into contact with other patients. The patient was later discharged and taken home by London ambulance service.”

 

Uber said it “temporarily suspended” the account of the driver who transported the individual to the hospital.

 

An Uber spokesperson told Business Insider: “We received a request from Public Health England for information about a passenger who has now been confirmed as having coronavirus.

 

“We have dedicated an online portal for public health authorities to contact Uber for information about riders and drivers, and we will take action on any user accounts on the recommendation of those authorities.”

 

Public Health England, the national body that sets healthcare policy in the UK, said that the Uber driver had little chance of contracting the infection because he was not with the woman long enough, according to The Guardian. The journey was less than 15 minutes.

 

But healthcare professionals are still critical of the move as one that does not follow advice.

 

The chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Emergency Care Association, Dave Smith, told The Guardian: “It’s worrying to hear that the public isn’t following Public Health England advice about phoning NHS 111 to seek advice, and therefore putting other members of the public and NHS staff at risk of contracting coronavirus.”

 

A total of nine people in the UK are now being treated for COVID-19. Two inmates at a prison in Oxfordshire, England, were tested for the Wuhan coronavirus on Tuesday.

 

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Tickler

CoronaVirus may never disappear

There's a good chance the Wuhan coronavirus will never disappear, experts say. There are only 3 possible endings to this story.

According to public-health experts, there are only three possible endings to this coronavirus story: The outbreak could be controlled via public-health interventions and disappear (as SARS did), a vaccine could be developed, or the coronavirus could become a permanent part of the repertoire of human viruses, perhaps like the seasonal flu.

 

That third option is the most likely, two experts told Business Insider – the new virus may never truly disappear.

 

“Right now, the actions being taken in China – the Draconian efforts – are what happens when you’re trying to catch a galloping horse that’s already left the barn,” said Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University.

Here are the three ways the outbreak could play out.

 

Outcome 1: The outbreak never really ends

Wuhan coronavirus
The Central Hospital of Wuhan via Weibo/Reuters
Medical staff members of Wuhan’s Central Hospital posing for a photo.

 

According to researchers at the World Health Organisation, an average person with the new coronavirus passes it to 1.4 to 2.5 other people. The group declared the coronavirus an international public-health emergency on January 30.

 

“There is sustained human-to-human spread now, mostly in China,” Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at Johns Hopkins’ Centre for Health Security, told Business Insider. “For all intents and purposes, we’re in the beginnings of a mild pandemic right now.”

 

One disease-transmission model published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that more than 300,000 people could get the coronavirus by February 24.

 

Four other coronaviruses are endemic – meaning permanently present – in the global population. They all cause common colds, though each can cause pneumonia and death in rare instances. Because these human coronaviruses are so mild, they don’t have names beyond their four-character designations: OC43, 229E, HKU1, and NL63.

 

According to Adalja, the new coronavirus could become a member of the club of constantly circulating, endemic coronaviruses.

“We have to be prepared for this to become the fifth community-acquired coronavirus,” he said.

That would mean the outbreak never really ends.

Outcomes 1a and 1b: The coronavirus never disappears but becomes seasonal or milder

Mask swine flu sick disease hospital doctor
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
A doctor wearing a mask.

 

If the coronavirus does become a permanent fixture among humans, one possibility – let’s call it outcome 1a – is that it winds up fluctuating with the seasons the way the flu does. In that case, it could retreat in the summer and return in the fall and winter each year.

 

“If you look at the trajectory of the virus and how it’s spreading in communities, coupled with the fact that we deal with coronaviruses every year during flu and cold season, those factors point to this coronavirus becoming a seasonal virus,” Adalja said.

 

The other four coronaviruses have seasonality too, Adalja added, so cases of the new one “may temper off as we leave spring and enter summer.”

Sneeze
A young girl sneezing.

 

The flu is seasonal because cooler temperatures help harden a protective gel-like coating that surrounds the virus while it’s in the air. A stronger shell ensures it can survive long enough in the air to travel from one person to the next.

 

The flu virus “survives better in cool, dry temperatures,” Amanda Simanek, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, told Insider.

 

Unlike the flu, however, the coronavirus is unlikely to mutate every season, Morse said. The flu virus’ genes change via a process called antigenic drift, and each small mutation gives rise to a new, closely related flu virus that our immune systems have to start fighting from scratch. (That’s why flu vaccines aren’t always 100% effective.)

 

Coronaviruses, on the whole, are “somewhat less prone to mutation than flu,” Morse said.

 

There is also a chance – let’s call it outcome 1b – that the new coronavirus becomes milder and more similar to the other four endemic coronaviruses. But Morse said he’d be surprised if that happened.

 

“I’m not optimistic enough to think this one is going to do that initially,” he said. “It may eventually evolve into that, a circulating illness that resembles the other four, but it will take time.”

Outcome 2: Through public-health interventions, the coronavirus plays itself out

The new outbreak is similar to the 2003 SARS outbreak in many ways: Both are coronaviruses that originated in bats, and both likely jumped from animals to people in Chinese wet markets. The two viruses share about 80% of their DNA. So the outcome of the new outbreak could be similar to that of SARS too.

 

SARS killed 774 people and infected more than 8,000 people from November 2002 to July 2003 but disappeared by 2004. Public-health experts and authorities worked hard to track down, diagnose, and isolate people with the virus to force it to “play itself out,” Morse said.

The spread of SARS was eventually limited via quarantines, travel restrictions, public-information campaigns, and airport screenings – the same types of interventions China and other countries are instituting now.

 

If those efforts lead to the number of people susceptible to the new coronavirus dropping below a certain threshold, Morse said, the outbreak will be contained.

 

In that scenario, it would either disappear eventually or become like Zika or H1N1 – viruses that continue to circulate, but among far fewer people than they did at first.

 

Worker disenfects wuhan doctor
Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
A worker disinfects a doctor with alcohol spray as he leaves a hotel accommodating isolated people in Wuhan.

 

However, SARS was far less contagious than the new coronavirus. SARS spread primarily in healthcare and hospital settings, and people weren’t infectious until they started showing symptoms.

 

But researchers think it’s likely that people can transmit the new coronavirus even when they don’t show symptoms. That makes it far more challenging to halt its spread.

Outcome 3: Drug companies manufacture a vaccine

Morse and Adalja both said a vaccine is essential if the world is to definitively control the coronavirus.

A lot of the public-health interventions are a “holding action to keep the virus from spreading in the short term until we get a vaccine,” Morse said.

Five leading drug companies – Johnson & Johnson, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Moderna, and Gilead Sciences – have announced plans to research and develop treatments for the new virus.

FILE PHOTO: A nurse fills a syringe with a vaccine before administering an injection at a children's clinic in Kiev, Ukraine August 14, 2019.  REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Reuters
A nurse filling a syringe with a vaccine.

 

Some are developing vaccines from scratch based on the coronavirus’ genetic code. Others are testing existing drugs to determine whether they’re effective at treating the new virus.

 

Getting a vaccine to market has historically been an arduous, multiyear process. (The Ebola vaccine, for example, took 20 years to make.) But Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health’s infectious-disease centre, said on February 7 that the agency was collaborating with Moderna to develop a coronavirus vaccine quickly.

 

Barring any glitches, Fauci said, “we will be in people in a phase-one trial within the next 2.5 months.”

The introduction of a vaccine would create a “sustained firewall” against its further spread, Morse said.

Source

Edited by Tickler

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The largest study of coronavirus patients so far suggests: It could take up to 24 days after exposure for symptoms to show

  • The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed at least 1,370 people and infected more than 60,000 people.
  • New research from a group of Chinese scientists suggested the virus’ incubation period – the time between exposure and the onset of symptoms – could be as long as 24 days.
  • The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says the coronavirus’ incubation period is two days to two weeks.
  • Based on that estimate, the CDC instituted a 14-day federal quarantine for the US citizens evacuated from Wuhan. The new study raises doubts about whether that’s enough.

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coolkips

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public

 

Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus


Wash your hands frequently

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.

 

Practice respiratory hygiene

When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Why? Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevent the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch.

 

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.

Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.


Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.


If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Tell your health care provider if you have traveled in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has traveled from China and has respiratory symptoms.

Why? Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing it’s important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes, and depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, 2019-nCoV could be one of them.


If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China

If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China, carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered, if possible.

 

As a general precaution, practice general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets

Ensure regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products; avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands; and avoid contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products. Strictly avoid any contact with other animals in the market (e.g., stray cats and dogs, rodents, birds, bats). Avoid contact with potentially contaminated animal waste or fluids on the soil or structures of shops and market facilities.


Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products

Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

 

Videos:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPITHEiFWLc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF42gZVm1Bo

 

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Tickler

Are the people infected with NovelCoronaVirus getting cured?

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coolkips
On 2/16/2020 at 1:14 AM, Tickler said:

Are the people infected with NovelCoronaVirus getting cured?

Yes. People with good immune could survive against this new coronavirus (ncov-19).

 

Data from this summary shows among 17k people confirmed positive ncov-19, only 2k ended with death while 16k had recovered from this disease.

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aum

Health officials worry as untraceable virus clusters emerge

 

800.jpeg

 

In South Korea, Singapore and Iran, clusters of infections are leading to a jump in cases of the new viral illness outside China. But it’s not the numbers that are worrying experts: It’s that increasingly they can’t trace where the clusters started.

 

World Health Organization officials said China’s crackdown on parts of the country bought time for the rest of the world to prepare for the new virus. But as hot spots emerge around the globe, trouble finding each source — the first patient who sparks every new cluster — might signal the disease has begun spreading too widely for tried-and-true public health steps to stamp it out.

 

“A number of spot fires, occurring around the world is a sign that things are ticking along, and what we are going to have here is probably a pandemic,” said Ian Mackay, who studies viruses at Australia’s University of Queensland.

 

That worst-case isn’t here yet, the WHO insists. It isn’t convinced that countries outside China need more draconian measures, but it pointed to spikes in cases in Iran and South Korea to warn that time may be running out to contain the virus.

 

“What we see is a very different phase of this outbreak depending where you look,” said WHO’s Dr. Sylvie Briand. “We see different patterns of transmission in different places.”

The World Health Organization defines a “global pandemic” as a disease spreading on two continents, though some public health experts would call an outbreak a pandemic if the spread is over a wide area or across many international borders.

 

The newest red flag: Iran has reported 28 cases, including five deaths, in just days. The cluster began in the city of Qom, a popular religious destination, but it’s not clear how. Worse, infected travelers from Iran already have been discovered in Lebanon and Canada.

 

In South Korea, most of the hundreds of new cases detected since Wednesday are linked to a church in the city of Daegu and a nearby hospital. But health authorities have not yet found the “index case,” the person among the church’s 9,000 followers who set off the chain of infections.

 

There also have been several cases in the capital, Seoul, where the infection routes have not yet been traced. In Europe, Italy saw cases of the new virus more than quadruple in a day as it grapples with infections in a northern region that apparently have spread through a hospital and a cafe.

 

A cluster of cases isn’t inherently worrying — in fact, it’s expected as an infection that’s easy to spread is carried around the world by travelers. The first line of defense: Isolate the sick to treat them and prevent further spread, and quarantine people who came in contact with them until the incubation period is over.

 

But as the virus becomes more widespread, trying to trace every contact would be futile, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged earlier this month.

 

“If we still hospitalize and isolate every suspect case, our hospitals will be overwhelmed,” he said. So far, the city-state has identified five clusters of transmission, including two churches. But there remain eight locally transmitted cases with no links to earlier cases, or to China.

 

Viruses vary in how they infect. The new coronavirus — unlike its cousins SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, and MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome — spreads as easily as a common cold.

 

And it’s almost certainly being spread by people who show such mild symptoms that no one can tell, said Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

 

“If that’s the case, all of these containment methods are not going to work,” Adalja said. “It’s likely mixed in the cold and flu season all over the place, in multiple countries” and gone unnoticed until someone gets severely ill.

 

These milder symptoms are good news “in terms of not as many people dying,” said Mackay, of Australia. “But it’s really bad news if you are trying to stop a pandemic,” he added.

 

When Hong Kong reported it first death from the virus earlier this month, it also confirmed three locally transmitted cases with no known link to any previous cases or any travel history to China. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection warned then that “there could be invisible chains of infection happening within communities.”

 

Officials in both South Korea and Japan have signaled in the past week that the spread is entering a new phase in their countries.

 

On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said the government would have to shift its focus from quarantine and border control to slowing the spread of the virus. Schools and churches were closed and some mass gatherings banned.

 

Takaji Wakita, head of Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, earlier urged people to work at home or in shifts to avoid being in a crowd, and refrain from holding non-essential and non-urgent meetings.

 

But Adalja cautioned that far-reaching measures like China instituted in the outbreak’s epicenter of Wuhan — where citizens have been ordered to stay in their homes for weeks — can backfire. While it remains to be seen if the new virus is waning, that kind of lockdown makes it hard for people to get other critically important care, like fast treatment for a heart attack.

 

There’s no way to predict if the recent clusters will burn out or trigger widespread transmission.

 

For now, health officials should try and contain the infection for as long as possible while preparing for a change in strategy by preparing hospitals, readying protective equipment and bolstering laboratory capacity, said Gagandeep Kang, a microbiologist who leads India’s Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.

 

“Although the window of opportunity is narrowing to contain the outbreak, we still have a chance to contain it,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But while doing that, we have to prepare at the same time for any eventualities, because this outbreak could go any direction – it could even be messy.”

___

Ghosal reported from New Delhi. Neergaard reported from Washington, D.C. Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this story.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

 

 

Edited by aum

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