As Malaysia continues to battle the raging Influenza A outbreak that has taken many states by shock, the world at large is preparing for a viral epidemic of far deadlier proportions. The Wuhan virus, or what has been identified by experts as a branch of the coronavirus, has just been confirmed to spread from human-to-humans yesterday (21st January 2020) by the Straits Times. This comes after 15 medical personnel assigned to treating patients affected by the Wuhan virus were infected themselves.
But most alarmingly, the virus has been feared to have the potential to turn into a ‘super-spreader’, on a scale that is similar to that of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak that occurred in 2002 to 2003, claiming over 700 lives. SARS, just like the Wuhan virus, also originated from China before spreading to other parts of larger Asia.
Super-spreader epidemics are named as such due to their incredibly fast rate of infection, which the Wuhan virus has displayed after cases were reported in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and now the United States, according to ABC News and the Washington Post.
These fears are compounded by the fact that the introduction of the Wuhan virus comes close during one of the largest human migrations annually, namely the Lunar Chinese New Year, which will see billions of native Chinese travelers returning from cities to their native home-villages. This mass migration of Chinese natives will number over three billion, according to Bloomberg.
While the death toll of the virus previously stood at four and infected patients at 224, according to SCMP and China Press, as of today (22nd January 2020), the official death toll has risen to 9, with 440 confirmed cases in China alone, according to China Press. It is also alleged that many cases have been under reported, and that real figures may be much higher.
Zhong Nanshan, one of the top specialists in China for SARS, has identified the new Wuhan virus as belonging to the same virus family as SARS, and may have been initially transmitted from animals to humans. This is highly likely due to the nature of the virus having originated in a seafood and animal meat market in Wuhan, China.
At the present, there is no known vaccine or cure for the Wuhan virus. As prevention is better than cure, please be sure to carry and wear an N95 mask with you at all times and limit your need for spending times outdoors. With Influenza cases and now the Wuhan virus, there’s no telling how many people may be affected!
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