Almost 3,000 cases, the vast majority in China, has been confirmed, prompting China to initiate emergency procedures in the hope of stopping the virus from spreading further or even globally. Across China, 15 cities are now in lockdown.
Wuhan itself has been quarantined, and all routes in and out of the city are regulated. Buses are not operating between provinces, and service is limited in and out of Beijing. The government has confirmed it is sending an extra 1,200 health workers to help the city’s already over-stretched, hospital staff.
This has happened during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday when many travel to China to join the celebrations. This year the holiday has been extended to February 2 to dissuade people from travelling and spreading the virus further.
Almost all mass celebrations for the festival have been cancelled, and authorities have urged people to avoid holding traditional large family gatherings.
More than 11 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) in government funds have been dedicated to the crisis.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can show up as symptoms of the common cold and stuffy nose or appear as conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
The virus has spikes protruding from their membranes. These spikes resemble the sun’s corona and allow the virus to attach to certain cells. If the spikes allow it to attach to the nose cells then it will appear as a common cold. If it attaches to the lung cells it can cause pneumonia and respiratory problems and even death. Shortness of breath makes it difficult to breathe. In hospital patients can be helped to breathe until the body’s own immune system kicks in with its own antibodies.
The virus infects both animals and people.
How do humans contract Coronavirus?
Infection happens through human-to-human contact. Unfortunately, the virus can spread even before symptoms appear. Chinese health authorities have confirmed that carriers may not realise they are infected before they transmit the virus to others.
How did Coronavirus start?
The Wuhan virus was first identified in December. Since then Chinese and international scientists have been studying it intensely, tracking its origin and working on a vaccine to fight it.
According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that they had isolated the virus in environmental samples taken from a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals in Wuhan.
What is the Foreign Office saying?
The Foreign Office and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has warned against all but essential travel to Wuhan. The warning against travel to Wuhan will affect very few British travellers because it is not a tourist city. The FCO also advises against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak and add that if you’re in this area and able to leave, you should do so.
What is the World Health Organisation saying?
Coronavirus is spreading, but so far WHO says it is not a global emergency. The number of cases outside China is small, and the disease does not seem to be spreading within other countries.
Five cases have been confirmed in the United States: a woman in her 60s in Chicago, a man in his 30s in Washington state, two people in southern California, and one person in Arizona.