The U.S. is taking proactive measures to prevent the spread of a potentially fatal respiratory virus, an aggressive coronavirus; codename 2019 nCoV. NBC News reports that Wuhan city in China, where the virus first emerged, has recorded two deaths thus far. Wuhan health authorities are working assiduously to control the outbreak but anticipate more cases in the coming weeks. The city has confirmed nearly 50 cases since the discovery, according to the latest update from health officials. Also, Thailand has reported two known incidences. There is another confirmed case in Japan, with the common denominator here being that; all the victims visited Wuhan recently.
With millions expected to travel in the upcoming week to commemorate the annual lunar festival, Chinese health authorities are anxious about the virus spreading; and causing a global panic. It has prompted the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to launch an invasive screening exercise to quarantine any suspected case. The team is targeting airports in the U.S., particularly those inbounding over 5, 000 passengers from Wuhan, China. It encompasses three airports; JFK in New York, LAX in Los Angeles, and SFO (San Francisco International Airport).
CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases director, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, expects at least one casualty. Meanwhile, the unit is taking every precaution to manage the situation proactively. Dr. Messonnier explains that this level of urgency is necessary when facing an exotic pathogen or virus without an effective defense strategy. Further adding that, without antiviral vaccines and treatments to neutralize the virus, it leaves the population to unknown health risks. Of note, the CDC believes that the risk of an outbreak is potentially low.
China has a history with coronaviruses, having survived Sars in 2003, which killed nearly 800 and left 8,098 ailing around the world. Coughing, runny nose, fever, and sore throat are the typical symptoms of coronaviruses. Most times, sufferers experience a mild reaction, but in severe cases, it can cause pneumonia. With no concrete evidence that suggests this strain of the coronavirus is as deadly as SARS, the Chinese remain optimistic.
In recent years, the CDC has only reported one new case of coronavirus, MERS, which caused widespread respiratory complications in 2012. It affected regions of Saudi Arabia, with patients manifesting multiple symptoms, ranging from breathlessness to coughing to severe fever. Although it was not as violent as SARS, this coronavirus triggered global panic. The medical team caring for the infected in China reassures the public that this strain, although contagious, is still developing. NFID (National Foundation for Infectious Diseases) head medical director, Dr. William Schaffner, a distinguished Vanderbilt University professor stipulates that; this coronavirus has a low risk of transmission.