Coronavirus scare around the world

Grace Scarberry, Reporter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

China’s Health Commission reported on Feb. 5 that there were 892 recoveries and 491 deaths nationwide.

As of Wednesday morning (Feb. 5) there were at least 24,000 confirmed cases in more than two dozen countries, the vast majority of them in China, according to the World Health Organization.

As of Feb. 3, the CDC confirmed the 2019 coronavirus spreads from person to person due to close sustained contact, bringing the total number of cases in the United States to 11.

There are no confirmed cases in Ohio. However, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Butler County General Health District continue to monitor two possible cases in students at Miami University. Those results are expected soon.

Jill Hartson, public health emergency preparedness coordinator of the Ashland County Health Department, provided some insight on the threat the coronavirus has to U.S. citizens.

“Because the virus is not currently spreading in the community… it has only spread from close, sustained contact. The CDC has said the risk to the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, is considered low,” Hartson said. “Healthcare workers caring for 2019-nCoV patients and other close contacts will have an increased risk of infection.”

Hartson says the CDC continues to recommend that Americans use typical infectious disease precautions, just as those used to prevent the cold or flu.

She suggests washing your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. She added that if you are ill, stay home and remain home for 24 hours after a fever subsides.

However, if Ohio has an outbreak, the U.S. Public Health response is to contain this outbreak and prevent sustained spread of 2019-nCoV in this country.

“This is done in multiple ways,” Hartson said. “To prevent exposure, health care providers and first responders caring for 2019-nCoV patients would wear personal protective equipment (PPEs). Frequently touched surfaces would be cleaned/disinfected to prevent the virus from spreading. Suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV patients would be isolated.”

After patients have been isolated, the health department says they would contact those who were exposed to individuals with a suspected or confirmed case of 2019n-CoV.

These individuals would be asked to self-monitor their symptoms and would be given instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms.

Statistics show there is more of a chance to contract and die from influenza than the coronavirus.

The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.

In the 2019-2020 flu season alone, there have been 19,000,000-26,000,000 flu illnesses, 8,600,000-12,000,000 flu medical visits, 180,000-310,000 flu hospitalizations and 10,000-25,000 flu deaths in the United States.

Terence Tche, an Ashland University sophomore from Macau, China offered information on behalf of the Chinese students on campus.

“Everyone thinks that all Chinese have the coronavirus, but it’s not genetic. Only a small percentage actually have the virus,” he said. “The virus is from Wuhan and not all of China. If you fear the virus, wear a mask, drink water and take vitamin C to strengthen your immune system.”

The CDC currently understands for confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.