2020 Coronavirus Outbreak News: Overview and Updates[updated]

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The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first detected in Wuhan City, China. Although scientists do not have a complete clinical picture regarding the new coronavirus, the spread and sometimes fatal symptoms have shocked the world, impacting everything from travel to the economy.

So far there have been thousands of confirmed cases, mostly in China, with over a hundred fatalities. New cases are popping up all over the globe despite widespread screenings and quarantines. 

To avoid any misconceptions I’ll quote the CDC-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how the virus is spread.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS and SARS.

When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s important to know this in order to better understand the risk associated with this virus. While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.

There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV and investigations are ongoing. 

CDC

March 8 2020: 105,828 infections confirmed. Over 3,500 people have died due to infections.

WHO declares coronavirus a global health emergency.

The United States issues a level 4 warning urging Americans not to travel to China.

The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

World map showing outbreak of coronavirus

Courtesy CDC

The above map shows which countries have confirmed coronavirus cases February 19 2020.

The Who Director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Concerned Over Recent Cases Outside China

Doctor Who Rose Alarm on Coronavirus Dies of Infection

Dr Li Wenliang, who issued the first warnings about the impact of the novel coronavirus, passed away in Wuhan’s Central Hospital after being infected by the virus who tried to fight.

Coronavirus Impact on Travel

Chinese authorities have locked down Wuhan City where the virus is believed to have originated, turning the city into a ghost town.

Diamond Princess Cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama Port

February 4. After screening the 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members, 10 passengers have been tested positive for the novel coronavirus. These passengers will be taken from board for treatment while the Diamond Princess will remain under quarantine for at least 14 days.

February 7, the number of confirmed cases as risen to 41. According to the cruise company the nationalities of the passengers infected is as follows: Argentina (one); Australia (five); Canada (five), Japan (21); United Kingdom (one) and United States (eight).

Most airlines have stopped, or limited, flights to and from Wuhan. Air travel to the rest of China has also suffered due to a lack of demand.

In Rome around 6,000 passengers on a Costa Cruises ship are being kept on board because a female passenger is believed to be infected with the coronavirus. The local mayor, Ernesto Tedesc, has announced that no passengers will be allowed offboard until it can be ruled out that there are no coronavirus infections.

Update: Passengers are free to leave the ship. Italian health authorities confirmed that there were no coronavirus infections on board, the suspected patient had the normal flu.

U.S. and Australia bar foreigners who’ve recently been to China

Coronavirus Impact on Business

Stock markets around the world, especially Asia, are booking losses due to the coronavirus outbreak. Nobody knows how long it will take to contain the virus and how big the impact on China’s and, subsequently, the global economy will be. 

Many big companies are keeping factories and retail stores closed in China. Starbucks has announced that it has closed over 2,000 of its stores in China with other American companies Like KFC, McDonald’s and Apple following suite.

In addition to closing stores, a lot of companies are cancelling business trips to and from all parts of China, including Hong Kong. Most companies are cancelling business meetings with Chinese counterparts until April, to see how the situation develops.

Monday February 3: Chinese stock markets have lost 9%, surprisingly the Hong Kong stock market is in plus

Big Tech Names Cancel Plans for Mobile World Congress 2020

Amazon, LG, Sony, Nvidia and Ericsson are not going to be at this year’s MWC in Barcelona, Spain, due to the coronavirus outbreak. Samsung will still attend but with a reduced presence.

The Mobile World Congress is one of the industry’s largest annual events. In 2019 it attracted 109,000 visitors from 198 countries.

Coronavirus and Fakenews

They say in a war the first victim is the truth, apparently this is the case in any crisis.

When something as big as the coronavirus crisis hits the news, speculations, conspiracy theories and miracle cures are not far away. There have been exaggerations on the number of victims and speculations on the origins of the outbreak.

One theory links the outbreak to an expired patent for a vaccine held by the Pirbright Institute, trying to find a connection to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that has funded the institute’s research. It should be noted that the coronavirus is a flu virus that has been known for a long time, the present outbreak is related to a new form of the virus that has no vaccine, yet.

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