The Coronavirus Outbreak

The Coronavirus Outbreak

Since Coronavirus first appeared, there have been multiple serious cases of infection and death, as well as widely misconceived rumors relating to the origins, spread, and extent of the viral infection. 

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a new strain of the virus first reported from a seafood/wild animal market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China on December 31st, 2019. This virus, like other coronaviruses, is zoonotic, meaning it is transmitted from animals to people. Though the exact origin of the Covid-19 is unclear, the most widely accepted notion is that it developed from bats, like similar viruses MERS and SARS

Data from recent cases has shown that the virus causes a variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. According to the CDC, the most common are flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath that can appear anywhere from two days to two weeks after exposure. 

Though there is little research yet on this specific strain, epidemiologists believe that Covid-19 spreads like similar coronaviruses: from person-person contact through coughing and sneezing, making it a highly contagious infection. 

This limited knowledge is also the reason behind many of the misconceptions on the strength and extent of this particular virus. The virus has many flu-like symptoms, and the biggest concern is the development of viral pneumonia, which can be life-threatening if not properly treated. Since it is viral, antibiotics cannot be used to treat it, and there have been no developments in a vaccination for the infection yet. 

In terms of the extent, the World Health Organization has officially declared the infection a global health emergency, due to the numerous cases seen in a wide array of countries. So far, this includes China, Singapore, United Kingdom, Japan, United States, Germany, Korea, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, India, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates, and Australia. 

Currently, in the United States, there have been 15 reported cases of Covid-19 as of February 13th, none of which have been in Pennsylvania (counter to the previous misconception of a potential case in Philadelphia). Out of the confirmed cases, eight were from California, one from Massachusetts, two from Illinois, two in Wisconsin, one in Arizona, and one in Washington state.

All of these people have spent the 14-day period of infection in a federal-mandated quarantine, in addition to the many others who were quarantined after arrival in the United States from Wuhan. 

Although the coronavirus seems to be contained for the most part, at least in the United States, it is still important to continue hygienic habits, to avoid this viral infection as well as the others promised by the winter season.

So Harriton, continue to cover your cough, avoid sharing food/drinks, and most importantly, wash your hands, and hopefully we will be sickness free this school year!