Today, the 5th of February, the number of deaths from coronavirus infection exceeded that of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, making it the deadliest infection by the coronavirus family since they were discovered in the 1960s. The good news, however, is that the number of recovered cases is also in steady increase. According to the numbers released officially by the Chinese authorities, the number of infected cases exceeded 20,000 with 420 dead since it was first reported in December of last year. The Chinese government assured world leaders and its citizens that the situation is under control and that it has enough medical supplies and food to overcome the crisis.
Regarding the international community, the number of cases outside mainland China is still not worrisome with a maximum of 300 cases reported, only 2 of which died. Many international airlines have cancelled trips to and from China, and the Chinese stock market is losing billions a day, an unprecedented economic loss since the 2008 housing crisis hit the US. Most countries worldwide have advised their citizens to leave mainland China whenever possible and many governments evacuated their citizens from Wuhan on exceptional flights. The widespread hysteria, however, has managed to fuel a wave of racism towards Asians and multiple incidences of hate crime were reported all over the world.
News from the frontline
- A worrisome report from India was retracted after causing panic for linking coronavirus to HIV and indicating that the virus is manmade.
- Doctors have reported that anti-HIV agents against the virus show promise.
- The doctor who warned against coronavirus before official news came out, Dr. Li Wenliang, is now quarantined for fear that he is now infected with the virus.
- China finished building its first hospital dedicated to treating new cases of the virus a few days ago and has started building a second hospital which will be ready to receive cases starting tomorrow. China has also started importing medical supplies especially face masks after demand exceeded supply.
Should we be worried?
Many experts say that the virus is on its way to becoming an epidemic, however, until the date of writing of this article, no sign of an epidemic anywhere else outside mainland China has been reported. Most cases found outside China are directly linked to visiting China in the past 2 months. Unnecessary panic has caused severe shortage of medical supplies and increased burden on health services. Unless you have visited China in the past months or had contact with someone who did so, there is no need to suspect you could have coronavirus if you show any signs of upper respiratory tract illness. General hygienic measures are advised in all cases and not visiting East Asia until the situation stabilizes and until the WHO classifies the virus as eliminated are the main preventive measures advised as of now.