The coronavirus that has rapidly infected currently 40,171 confirmed cases on China’s mainland and reports of 908 deaths.
The death toll from the new virus shows that more have been killed with the Coronavirus than during the SARS virus outbreak in 2003.
Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Monday that the Japanese government was testing all 3,711 passengers and crew on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship for the new coronavirus.
As of Monday 135 people from the ship had been diagnosed with the virus and taken off the ship for treatment in Japanese hospitals. Everyone on the ship has been told to remain in their cabins and report immediately any symptoms – which often resemble flu symptoms, but only those considered at risk have been tested for the virus up to now.
As of February 7th, a U.S. citizen diagnosed with the novel coronavirus has died in China in what appears to be the first death of an American from the virus.
“We can confirm a 60-year-old U.S. citizen diagnosed with coronavirus died at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, China…” a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said.
Here’s what else you should know about the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, which originated in the city of Wuhan:
“This is a new virus that has not been previously identified in humans,” said Debra Chew, a former epidemic officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It belongs to a large family of viruses called coronaviruses. These viruses can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, and more severe illnesses such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS),” Chew said.
“Currently, a lot is unknown about the Wuhan coronavirus, but the CDC and the World Health Organization are actively
investigating to learn more about this virus, the way it spreads and its severity of illness,” added Chew, a professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
Should Americans be concerned?
“While any new virus is a serious public health concern, the immediate health risk to the American public is deemed low at this point,” said Chew. “The virus is thought to have some limited person-to-person spread, and the CDC and WHO are conducting ongoing investigations to learn more about the degree of this spread.”
What is known about how the virus spreads?
“While a lot about this new coronavirus is still unknown, it may have been transmitted to humans from an animal source, as many of the confirmed early cases were linked to a seafood/live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed,” said Chew. “Some person-to-person spread has occurred by some who were in close contact with an infected patient and are being investigated.”
What are the symptoms and health risks?
“Common signs, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties are like those found with other respiratory illnesses,” Chew explained. “In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe
acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. The illness appears to be more severe in those who have underlying medical conditions, a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young.”
How is it treated?
“As with many viruses, there is no specific treatment, but many of the symptoms can be treated, and supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective,” Chew said. “Since this is a new virus, there is no vaccine, and it can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.”
How can people protect themselves, especially if they are flying and will be in contact with people from all over the world?
“Travelers should follow standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and spread of a range of infections,” Chew advised. “This includes washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve — not your hands — when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact, if possible, with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing.”
On Monday, the CDC urged all Americans to avoid any nonessential travel to all of China, not just Wuhan.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.