Coronavirus: What is it and should we be worried? Leanne Elliott shares some facts.
On the 30th of December, the Chinese government alerted health authorities of an outbreak of a potentially life-threatening virus. The novel Coronavirus, dubbed “2019-NCoV” has been traced to Central Eastern China, in the city of Wuhan with a population of around 11 million people.
NCoV is a species of the Coronaviruses (CoV) family, which includes the common cold, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). As with SARS, NCoV is zoonotic having crossed species, with news sources stating a live animal market in Wuhan is the suspected point of origin.
The Chinese government has locked down Wuhan and a number of surrounding provinces, impacting an estimated 40 million people. Meanwhile, scientists have already decoded 2019-NCoV’s genome, meaning we are hopefully a step closer to developing treatments and a vaccine, though exactly how 2019-NCoV is spread remains unknown.
Before panicking about a possible global pandemic, it is important to remember that new diseases are nothing new and 2019-NCoV will undoubtedly not be the last. The mounting number of cases being reported outside of China is unsurprising given our global connectedness.
Additionally, Health experts agree that we are better prepared when compared to previous outbreaks, such as the 2003 SARS outbreak. Now, we have faster response times, greater collaboration and information sharing between countries, improved medical screening and DNA sequencing, and quicker containment of affected areas and people.
However, concerned germaphobes should make sure you wash your hands regularly, avoid people with flu-like symptoms or large crowds, wear a decent face mask (avoid cheap, flimsy ones) and cook your meat properly. Or if you are really germophobic or concerned about a lethal pandemic end of days scenario, grab your essentials, get your bug out kit ready and prepare to go bush.
If you’d like some more information visit the NSW Health website.
For live updates about how it may be affecting UON, visit the alerts page.