Covid-19 Coronavirus Outbreak – Pandemic Threatening Grave Consequences

As the death toll due to new coronavirus is increasing at an alarming rate, concerns are growing about the deadly virus that is a fast-spreading epidemic in China. Cases of infected people have crossed over 873,700 while the death toll exceeding more than 43,200.

The number of people falling ill with or dying of viral pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus is rising rapidly, despite quarantines of millions of people and other measures to try to prevent the epidemic from spreading further. The deadly virus has not only spread in every province of China but several countries across the globe as well. It has been carried by travelers to other countries, including the United States.

Table of Contents:

What is Novel Coronavirus?
Origin of COVID-19 Outbreak
What are the Symptoms?
How is the Virus Transmitted?
What’s Being Done?
Difficulties in Developing a Cure
Severity of the Epidemic
Hoaxes About COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak
China’s Downplay of the Virus
Chaos and Despair Unraveled
Coronavirus Emerging Updates

What is the Novel Coronavirus?

Very little is known of this virus and it does not have a name yet. It had been temporarily named 2019-nCoV, meaning “novel coronavirus”. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the new coronavirus – “COVID-19”.  According to the director-general of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the ‘CO’ stands for corona, the ‘VI’ for virus and the ‘D’ for disease.

Scientists and public-health officials have been trying to learn more about this new virus that belongs to the family of coronaviruses.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that consist of a core of a genetic material surrounded by an envelope with protein spikes that gives it an appearance of a crown. Crown in Latin is called ‘corona’, hence the name ‘coronaviruses’. This family of viruses mostly infects mammals including bats.

COVID19 Coronavirus electron microscope image

COVID-19 Coronavirus in yellow, emerging from cells in blue and pink cultured in lab as seen under electron microscope / Image: NIAID-RML

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) spread in China in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) which infected the people in Saudi Arabia in 2012, belongs to the coronavirus family. Several known coronaviruses circulate in animals and have not yet evolved to infect humans except SARS and MERS.

These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and humans. For instance, SARS was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS traveled to humans from camels.

Origin of COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

As very little is known about this virus, it is still unclear how it spread and what was the primary carrier of the virus. But, it is believed that a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak. Most of the people with viral pneumonia were exposed to Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China.

It is believed that the patients got sick from being in contact with some infected animal and later it was transmitted to other people they came in contact with. The primary carrier of the disease is still unknown and the exact dynamics of transmission of the virus is yet to be determined.

In late December 2019, China first announced the outbreak of mysterious pneumonia, but it appeared that the officials in the country were quite clear on a few things. The WHO was informed about the outbreak on December 31, 2019.

Could China Have Downplayed Coronavirus Outbreak?

Health care workers in protective suits attending to novel coronavirus patients at ICU in a hospital in Wuhan / Image: Reuters

The COVID-19 was initially thought to have jumped to humans from bats as it has been found to share many genetic similarities to two coronaviruses in bats, but others have suggested it may have come from snakes, although this idea has been widely dismissed by virologists.

Most recently, endangered pangolins, whose scales are heavily used in Chinese traditional medicine, are being proposed as a likely carrier for the virus. Some researchers have suggested that a bat coronavirus may have combined with another coronavirus in pangolins to produce the strain now infecting humans.

What are the symptoms?

According to WHO, the symptoms of COVID-19 can have mild to severe effects causing fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties to pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure, and even death. The disease can be asymptomatic as in many cases the patient did not display symptoms despite having the virus in their system.

The groups most at risk are the people in close contact with animals, e.g. live animal market workers; caring for the infected, e.g. family members and medical care workers. While the exact transmission dynamics is still unknown, the rate of human-to-human transmission is rather high.

However, it is clear that the virus attacks the immune system and other organs. The people with underlying diseases are more likely to have died after being infected. Besides elderly and sick people, the long-term smokers are at risk too, as their lungs could be an easy target for the virus.

How is the virus transmitted?

While it is likely to have originated in animals, the transmission of the new coronavirus from person to person can occur. However, the exact dynamics are unknown. Researchers are still studying the exact parameters of human-to-human transmission. It is assumed that upon coming in contact with the infected person, another person can get infected.

The scientists have guessed that the virus-likely takes about 5-6 days to give rise to symptoms once it has infected a person. COVID-19 is most similar to two bat coronaviruses known as bat-SL-CoVZC45 and bat-SL-CoVZXC21; its genetic sequence is 88 percent the same as theirs.

Electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (in yellow) among human cells (in pink) – virus was isolated from a patient in the U.S / Image: NIAID-RML

New virus’ DNA is about 79 percent the same as that of the SARS coronavirus and approximately 50 percent similarities to that of the MERS virus.

The behaviour of coronaviruses outside the host as to how long they can survive on different surfaces / Image: AFP

Another reason that the number of infected people spiked overnight is China’s huge population. Being the world’s most populous country, China became an easy target for this fast-spreading coronavirus.

What’s being done?

Scientists and health officials are trying to find treatment and vaccine for the virus. Besides finding the cure, there are few other things that scientists are trying to figure out, including how the virus is transmitted, how easily it spreads, and how many people are infected but don’t develop symptoms.

Scientists are striving to develop ways to fight this previously unknown threat. Virologists are attempting to engineer a vaccine. Others are seeking drug treatments that can help those fallen sick with the infection.

The authorities first warned people about going in and out of Wuhan, but eventually, they put the whole city under quarantine since January 23, 2020. Public transportation within the city and flights in and out of the city were also cancelled.

Once the areas surrounding Wuhan were pulled inside the sealed-off zone days later, a total of 35 million people had been effectively put into lockdown in Hubei Province.

The people are instructed to stay indoors and wear good quality masks to protect themselves from the virus. They are advised to stay away from the infected people and wash hands in case they come in contact with the infected.

Could China Have Downplayed Coronavirus Outbreak?

A worker measuring body temperature of people leaving a supermarket in Qingshan district, Hubei / Image: Reuters

As it is still unclear as to which animal was the carrier of the infection, the Chinese government has banned the sale of wild animals in local markets, restaurants and online channels. Most of the international and domestic flights have been cancelled and Wuhan has been completely shut down. The other countries have also advised people not to visit China and people coming back from China are being quarantined for two weeks.

Difficulties in Developing a Cure

Anti-viral drugs are an efficient way to cure viral infections as they interfere with the virus’ ability to enter our cells, disrupts its ability to hijack our cellular system to replicate or prevents it from escaping infected cells. Unfortunately, there not many effective anti-viral drugs for coronaviruses. One potential treatment for coronavirus could be the anti-viral drug “remdesivir” which was initially developed to treat the Ebola virus.

Infographic Credit: Uniserve

The problem in finding a potential cure for coronaviruses is their ability to mutate at an exponential rate and they can potentially develop resistance to anti-viral treatments. Their mutating speed and ability to change their characteristics makes them hard to vaccinate against.

Vaccines tend to train the immune system to target a particular feature, such as a protein structure, on the shell of the virus. But, due to the continually altering appearance of the virus, our immune system finds it hard to recognize different infections. It is partially why the common cold has been so difficult to develop a vaccine against.

Severity of the Epidemic

Experts fear that this outbreak could turn into a pandemic – an ongoing epidemic affecting two or more continents. Despite the extraordinary travel restrictions and quarantines now imposed by China and other countries, including the US, the novel coronavirus is now circling the globe and could have global consequences of a pandemic.

At first WHO said that it is not yet a global health emergency. But, given the high number of infected people and the rising death toll, it has now been declared a global health emergency. It is the sixth global health emergency in the last two decades.

Could China Have Downplayed Coronavirus Outbreak?

Workers carrying out disinfect in Jianghan district amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak  / Image: Reuters

It is believed that closing down of shared borders may not entirely stop the spread of the virus, but it could slow it down to buy time for the development of drug treatment and vaccine. Most reported deaths in this outbreak have been in older people with underlying diseases such as heart diseases, hypertension, and diabetes. It is a similar demographic who is most at risk of dying from illnesses like the flu.

The total death toll has surpassed that of SARS and MERS. The number grows larger every day, reflecting a local health system overwhelmed by the fast-moving, alien pathogen, making even the most basic care impossible.

Hoaxes about COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak

As people online search for information about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, they can easily encounter a barrage of misleading and potentially dangerous information. Social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been working to promote factual content and some are prioritizing misinformation on their platforms.

Still, efforts by these social media platforms have not managed to stop the spread of misleading or outright false hoaxes about the outbreak of COVID-19 in the form of posts and videos that have racked up thousands of shares.

Hoaxes about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak:

While scientists are still unclear on how or where the virus developed, there are theories circulating on social media implying that the outbreak is linked to a “bio-weapons research gone wrong” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research institute that houses Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory.

A different hoax says that the virus was stolen from Canada and sent to Wuhan to be weaponized. Another popular theory is that a vaccine for the new coronavirus already exists and it all is a “set up” to sell vaccines.

Seems like people are implying fictional theories on the outbreak.  The 2011 movie “Contagion” which was about a virus outbreak, portrays the much relevant scenario of COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. However, the movie also argues that the misinformation is as contagious as the virus and dangerous too.

WHO has been answering the public queries regarding the virus outbreak, advising the public on how to protect themselves from it, and also busting the various myths and hoaxes regarding the same.

Did China downplay the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak?

It is suspected that China might have downplayed the outbreak of the novel coronavirus as it did during the SARS outbreak of 2003 that infected over 8,000 people and killed 774 people. During the SARS outbreak, Chinese officials attempted to conceal cases from WHO inspectors and limit information, both internally and externally.

A study published in The Lancet reveals that the earliest case dates back to December 1, 2019, whereas the officials show the first case recorded on December 12. The contrast between the Lancet report and official news coming from China has raised concerns about the truthfulness of information coming out of China. Critics and citizens are skeptical that Chinese officials are under-counting the number of illnesses and are classifying deaths that might have been from the virus.

The website from researchers at Johns Hopkins has been updating the world with the severity of the situation. It collects data from various sources: the WHO, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (NHC), and two other sites.

Moreover, the origin of the virus is tracked down to the seafood market in Wuhan, but one-third of the cases are of people who had not visited that market. The revelation indicated two possible explanations: either the patients got infected from infected animal somewhere else or the human-to-human spread.

Could China Have Downplayed Coronavirus Outbreak?

A masked store worker in Wuhan during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak / Image: Reuters

Besides, it is crucial to understand the earliest days of an outbreak as it not only helps to understand how deadly and transmissible a virus is but also at how there is been such a rapid spread of the virus. Comprehending the initial days of outbreak and cases could help in a better understanding of the virus.

China is also suspected to have lied about the actual death toll due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. However, if the information has been withheld, it would be a violation of the International Health Regulations. Although China shared the DNA sequencing of the virus shortly after announcing the outbreak, it really hasn’t been forthcoming with additional information about the virus from different times in different regions.

The Chinese scientists haven’t shared the virus itself with other national labs. This information is crucial to understand ‘whether the virus mutated, how and also about its transmissibility’.

Chaos and Despair Unraveled

Amidst the rising death toll, the death of Dr. Li Wenliang was reported by China’s state-run paper Global Times, but it was then retracted, creating confusion. The hospital said that he was in critical condition and later revealed that he couldn’t be saved.

The doctor, who warned the medical community about severe pneumonia cases in December, was reported to have died of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Authorities censored information and silenced the whistle-blowers who tried to sound the alarm, including Wenliang. He was reprimanded by the Wuhan authorities for that warning.

It appears that Chinese authorities have been trying to censor the news that is crucial to update the world on the horrors of the situation. In the early days of the virus’ spread, prevarication and delay by local officials also allowed the pathogen to circulate more widely among the unsuspecting masses.

Another report in The New England Journal of Medicine also shows that there were already seven health care workers infected by January 11, which clearly reveal the possibility of human-to-human transmission. But, this information was kept from the public until January 18.

Even after it became clear that people are falling sick with viral pneumonia, which is highly transmissible, authorities still allowed large-scale public events to take place. The magnitude of the situation fully became apparent to the wider public when the celebration of China’s annual Lunar New Year holiday was cancelled.

The public anger has been stirred by the fact that authorities didn’t act quickly enough to inform the public and contain an epidemic that began unfolding in December. China’s desperate attempts to control the narrative, quiet dissenters, and contain outgoing information is fueling public anger.

People and authorities have been demanding freedom of speech and political reforms in China. Since the death of the 34-year-old doctor’s death, two open letters demanding free speech have circulated on social media, one signed by 10 professors in Wuhan. Meanwhile, the WHO has been updating the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak situation in and outside China.

Gloabal Coronavirus Affected Countries - Total number of confirmed COVID19 Cases

Coronavirus affected countries across the globe as on 12, March 2020 / Image: WHO

At the same time, the situation in the Hubei region is deteriorating. Until March 12, the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Hubei was stabilizing, but then the number increased and the number of cases of infected people crossed over 126,000 worldwide.

China has meanwhile temporarily banned the catching, selling or eating wild animals. However, the scale of the crackdown, which has netted almost 40,000 animals including squirrels, weasels and boars, suggests that China’s taste for eating wildlife and using animal parts for medicinal purposes is not likely to disappear overnight, despite potential links to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, patients and medical staff had been going through supplies and equipment rather quickly, leaving a huge pile of medical waste behind. Garbage contaminated with bodily fluids or other infectious materials is becoming a bigger concern for hospitals as they brace for a surge in patients sick with COVID-19, worldwide. Eventually all that used gear piles up as medical waste that needs to be safely discarded.

In Wuhan, where the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak was first observed, officials not only built new hospitals for the escalating number of patients, but had to construct a new medical waste plant and deploy 46 mobile waste treatment facilities too. Hospital there generated six times as much medical waste at the peak of the outbreak as they did before that. The daily output of medical waste reached 240 metric tons, about the weight of an adult blue whale.

The CDC says that medical waste from coronavirus can be treated the same way as regular medical waste. Generally, to ensure the contaminated trash from health care facilities doesn’t pose any harm to the public before going to a landfill, it’s typically burned, sterilized with steam, or chemically disinfected.

However, medical centers have more to worry than waste. The disease is spread out beyond hospitals. Some people who have minor symptoms are recovering at home. Others who are asymptomatic might not know that the waste they are throwing out could be contaminated. That could end up generating plenty of virus-laden garbage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Amidst COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, people have many questions regarding the disease, its spread, and prevention. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions.

How can you protect yourself from COVID-19 coronavirus? 

Following basic hygiene precautions can protect you from the infection. Frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Stay away from sick people and keep at least 1-meter distance between you and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching mouth, eyes or nose to prevent the infection.

Which sanitizers are effective?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective for somewhat protection from the novel coronavirus.

How likely you are to get infected?

The chances of you catching the virus mostly depend on you. The location and the people whom you are frequently in contact with also affect these chances. If you are taking all the necessary measures, then the risk of you getting infected is quite low.

Should you be worried about COVID-19?

Sickness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. But, it can cause serious illness in some cases. According to the WHO, about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is quite normal to be worried about catching the infection.

Who is at the most risk of severe illness?

While there are still many unknown things about COVID-19, the virus mostly affects older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, or diabetes).

Are antibiotics effective to cure COVID-19?

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections and therefore, antibiotics don’t work on COVID-19. They should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of coronavirus.

Is there a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19?

No, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illnesses should be hospitalized.

Does disinfecting surfaces prevent the spread of the virus?

According to the studies, disinfecting surfaces can prevent the spread of coronavirus to some extent. The common household disinfectants, including soap or a diluted bleach solution, can deactivate coronaviruses on indoor surfaces.

How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?

According to the WHO, it is not certain how long the virus survives on surfaces, but it is similar to other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronavirus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. If you think surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub thereafter.

Should you avoid public gatherings and events?

The WHO and various other health organizations advice against public gatherings and events. Keeping social contact to a minimum number of people has been recommended to prevent yourself and others from the infection.

Should you wear a mask?

Wearing a mask is advisable only if you are sick with coronavirus symptoms or taking care of an infected person. Disposable masks can be worn only once if you are not ill or tending to an infected person, then you are wasting the mask.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask?

If you are not a health worker, a caretaker or infected, then using a mask is not necessary. Remember to clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before touching the mask. Look for tears or holes. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the colored side).

After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use. Use alcohol-based hand rub or wash your hands with soap and water.

UPDATE  (February 18, 2020):

While the scientists and medical workers are working on finding a cure to the new coronavirus, another medical worker has lost his life to the deadly virus. Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died on February 18 after being infected with COVID-19. China said last week that six medical workers had died from the virus, while 1,716 have been infected.

Meanwhile, China will abandon trade-war tariffs on imports of selected US medical equipment from March 2, as the country battles to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. The move comes as doctors and nurses treating virus patients in China’s overstretched hospitals struggle to deal with the health crisis amid a shortage of basic medical items.

UPDATE (February 20, 2020):

Scientists all across the globe are working hard to develop a treatment or vaccine to fight the COVID-19. Meanwhile, a group of researchers has figured out the shape of the spike protein in  the new coronavirus. According  to Jason McLellan, senior author of the study and an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, it will help in figuring how to target the virus.

UPDATE (February 21, 2020):

On February 19, Iranian health officials confirmed that two elderly people had tested positive for coronavirus posthumously. Health Ministry spokesman of Iran, Kianush Jahanpur revealed in his tweet that the outbreak originated in Qom and that two more people had died from the disease.

The rapid spread of coronavirus in Iran has left WHO worried as the city of Qom is a popular destination for Shiite pilgrims. Many Middle East countries have seen an increase in the confirmed cases of COVID-19, including the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Egypt, and Israel.

However, Iranian authorities have not implemented sufficient measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. Parliamentary elections were held Feb. 21, and the Iranian government did not want to affect voter participation. As the situation in Iran worsens, Iraqis are demanding that stronger action be taken to halt the spread of the virus.

A few days ago, Hubei Province decided to count “clinically diagnosed” cases in its numbers. These were the patients who showed all the symptoms of COVID-19 but either had not been able to get a test or were believed to have falsely tested negative. It allowed doctors to use CT scan to confirm such coronavirus infections without a test.

Later, the government guidelines changed and “clinically confirmed” were excluded from the tally of confirmed cases. The patients must have a positive lab test result, otherwise they will be listed as “suspected”.

All these changes created confusion among the people and to add to it, Hubei health authorities announced another new development. Tu Yuanchao, deputy director of Hubei Health Committee, said at a press conference that the provincial government has banned the practice of reducing the number of already confirmed cases.

UPDATE (February 22, 2020):

Meanwhile, the WHO has said that the window of opportunity to contain this deadly virus was narrowing, as the cases with no clear link with China is rapidly increasing outside of China, including the rise of cases in Middle Eastern countries.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has for weeks insisted the low number of cases of COVID-19 outside the epicentre of the deadly outbreak in China’s central Hubei province presented a “window of opportunity” to contain the international spread.

​However, recently he said that;

we are still in a phase where containment is possible… our window of opportunity is narrowing.

He called on the international communities to act quickly as the virus has infected over 77,500 people and killed more than 2,300 of them.

UPDATE (February 27, 2020):

A large number of people have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus in South Korea. The authorities believe a large number of cases in the country attended a Shincheonji service or have been in contact with attendees.

The religious group, which is an offshoot of Christianity, is now at the heart of South Korea’s COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, particularly in the city of Daegu. The religious group says it is cooperating with local authorities and has shut down all church services and gatherings.

Meanwhile, the death toll has increased in Iran, Italy and South Korea. Over 2,750 people have lost their lives globally.  At least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness, worldwide. While, the cases in Europe, the Middle East, and America are escalating, there has been a decline in the fresh cases in China.

The pet dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has been found to have a ‘low level’ infection. However, the dog will be further tested to confirm whether it has really been infected or it was just a result of environmental contamination.

The WHO has been in talks with organizers of the Tokyo Olympics. However, no decision has been made to cancel the major sporting event amidst COVID-19 outbreak.

UPDATE (February 28, 2020):

As it is said – desperate times, desperate measures; the process to develop an effective cure for coronavirus is becoming desperate by the minute. The scientists have been working round-the-clock to find a cure for deadly COVID-19. In another desperate attempt, thousands of lab monkeys were infected with MERS-CoV, a cousin of the novel coronavirus. The infected monkeys were given remdesivir – an antiviral drug that was initially developed to cure Ebola virus.

The infected monkeys were separated in different groups, several were given the drug before being injected with the virus, others received it after being infected, and few didn’t receive the drug at all. Scientists are hoping that the results would help them understand and invent a drug or apply the same one with few modifications to cure COVID-19.

Amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 Geneva Motor Show (GIMS), which was scheduled to start in the beginning of March, has been canceled after the Swiss government banned mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people due to rising concern over the virus. The ban is effective immediately and runs at least until mid March.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Disneyland will be closed till March 15 due to concerns about rising COVID-19 cases in Japan. All of Walt Disney’s theme parks in Asia will remain temporarily shut. Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will remain closed after a government recommendation that big gatherings and events be curtailed for a time period of two weeks.

20 cases of coronavirus have emerged in Britain. The feelings of fear and panic have shrouded people in Britain as there has been a rise in coronavirus cases in past few days.

The scientists believed that coronavirus could not survive in hot regions. However, Nigeria has confirmed its first COVID-19 case in the sub-Saharan region. It is the most populous country of Africa and has raised concerns about the rapid spread of this deadly virus.

Germany has quarantined over 1,000 people in the most populous state as the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus rose above 50. Schools and kindergartens were also shut in the district of Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia as the number of cases linked to the cluster reached 20.

Given the circumstances owing to COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, this year’s Everest climbing season may impact with many trekkers from countries including China, South Korea, Italy and Japan cancelling their expeditions due to lack of government preparedness to deal with the epidemic.

UPDATE (March 2, 2020): 

Rising cases of novel coronavirus in the US has left the government and citizens concerned. There are at least 89 confirmed cases in the country. While New York, Rhode Island, and Florida have announced their first confirmed cases, two people have died in the Washington state.

UPDATE (March 5, 2020):

Chinese government experts are of the opinion that new cases of coronavirus infections are likely to drop in Wuhan toward the end of March due to the rise in overall temperature. There already has been a significant decline in the fresh cases of infected people. 

UPDATE (March 6, 2020): 

Amidst the escalating COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak throughout the world, a controversial research paper has made a claim that the new coronavirus has evolved into two distinct strains and it is possible to be infected with both. However, some experts disagree by saying that it could be an error.

Meanwhile, Bhutan has confirmed its first coronavirus case. A 76-year-old patient from America has recently visited India before going to Bhutan. The patient has been isolated in COVID-19 hospital and kept on oxygen support considering his age and underlying conditions.

UPDATE (March 7, 2020):

More countries have been reporting first cases of COVID-19 inside their territories. The virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed over 3,500 people in more than 90 countries. In South Korea the number of confirmed cases has reached over 7,000 within a few days, while the US is battling to contain the outbreak on the Grand Princess cruise ship that has 21 people positively infected with coronavirus.

UPDATE (March 8, 2020):

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte decided to put millions of people under lockdown in northern Italy due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. This action is one of the toughest responses implemented outside of mainland China and is likely to put the entire Lombardy region and 14 other provinces under travel restrictions.

Italy has seen a dramatic rise of 1,247 confirmed novel coronavirus cases on March 7. The country has now recorded 5,883 cases and 233 deaths, the most fatalities outside mainland China and the biggest outbreak in Europe.

UPDATE (March 9, 2020):

While the three confirmed cases of COVID-19 early on have been recovered, a new surge of fresh cases has left the health officials of the country worried. A three-year-old child in Kerala has been tested positive with the new coronavirus and has been put in an isolated ward at Ernakulam Medical College. The total number of cases in the country has reached over 40.

Meanwhile, five more cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, taking the total number of infected people to 12. Two more cases have been diagnosed positive in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number there to 21.

UPDATES (March 11, 2020): 

More cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the Indian subcontinent in the past couple of days. After being diagnosed with coronavirus, an 89-year-old woman is said to be in critical condition at the Kottayam Medical College, Kerala. She was infected after coming in contact with her infected daughter who recently returned from Italy, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 52.

In Jaipur, an 85-year-old man who had recently returned from Dubai has been found “presumptive positive” for coronavirus in the first test.

Moreover, a British MP, Nadine Dorries, a minister in the health department, has been tested positive for coronavirus. Health officials are trying to trace from whom she got the virus and whether she has infected other people she has been in contact with.

Meanwhile, the USA has seen a rise in coronavirus cases reaching over 1,000 with 31 dead. New cases in China have significantly dropped. There has been a decline in fresh cases in South Korea as well, though a cluster of new cases in Seoul is likely to reverse the positive change.

The number of infected people is likely to rise as Qatar announced 238 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in just one day. The total number of cases has reached over 260 in the energy-rich Gulf state.

Given the severity of COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, operators running expeditions on the north side of Mount Everest were notified that China has cancelled all permits for the spring season.

UPDATE (March 12, 2020): 

The rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India has left the citizens and authorities worried. With new cases in Maharashtra, the total number of coronavirus cases is nearing 70 in the country.

As the novel coronavirus has found a foothold in every continent except Antarctica, the WHO has declared the COVID-19 crisis a pandemic. The outbreak has infected over 118,000 people in 114 countries and killed more than 4,200 people.

UPDATE (March 13, 2020): 

As the coronavirus cases surge at a rapid rate, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to provide disaster funding, speed up the U.S. response to the crisis and offer “maximum flexibility” to attack the problem.

The administration increased its efforts after the WHO declared the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The situation has led to school closures and postponing of iconic sports events.

Meanwhile, the WHO has urged to intensify their actions to combat COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, imploring countries “not to let this fire burn”, as Spain said it would declare a 15-day state of emergency from March 14.

Europe has become the epicenter of the epidemic, where the virus has spread through 27 EU states and has infected 25,000 people, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined apart from China.

According to a recent CDC projection, the US COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak could infect an estimated 160 million to 214 million people over a period of more than a year and kill anywhere from 200,000 to 1.7 million people in the country. Although this estimated projection did not factor in the ongoing efforts to address the epidemic, the mortality rate is terrifying.

The scientists and virologists have been assessing the value and efficiency of remdesivir drug to combat COVID-19. Experimental tests of the drug on severely infected patients have shown mixed results and its potential in curing the coronavirus still remains unclear.

 UPDATE (March 14, 2020):

According to a media report, scientists in Israel are likely to announce the completion of the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 in the coming days. Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that scientists at Israel’s Institute for Biological Research have recently had a significant breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus, including better diagnostic capability, production of antibodies for those who already have the coronavirus and development of a vaccine.

The number of cases in the US has reached over 1,700 with more than 40 deaths. 328 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in New York, including 96 residents of New York City. 46 states have been recorded with coronavirus cases, with New York, Washington State, and California with more than 200 confirmed cases.

In India, more than 80 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus with two deaths. India’s Supreme Court has said it will only hear urgent cases from Monday and has restricted the number of people who can enter a courtroom. Karnataka has banned all gatherings including weddings, sports events and conferences for a week as the country attempts to slow the spread of the virus. Malls, movie theaters, pubs and night clubs have also been shut.

UPDATE (March 15, 2020):

The global health organizations are under a lot of pressure to find a cure as soon as possible as the total cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 169,300 worldwide, with more than 6,500 deaths. While one of the federal government is trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC has recommended that no gatherings with 50 people or more, including weddings, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events or conferences, be held in the US for the next eight weeks.

Meanwhile, the city and union leaders are working on plans for emergency child care for essential city workers whose children attend public schools. New York City’s public school system will remain shut for a week. Public schools in Long Island and Westchester will also close this week.

The U.S. death toll rose to 69 across 12 states, with the total number of confirmed cases surging to 3,774. The worldwide death toll topped 6,500.

Italy has been the hardest hit country outside of China with coronavirus with a 3,590 more coronavirus cases in just one day. According to the officials, the number of deaths rose to 1,809 –  a 25 percent increase over the day before and the largest one-day death toll yet of any country.

According to the WHO, the 368 deaths in Italy has exceeded the highest single-day number China reported at the height of its outbreak. China’s highest daily toll was on February 13, when the country reported 254 new deaths.

Struggling to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, like Italy and France, Spain is now on lockdown with about 8,000 people infected and almost 300 dead. The streets are empty and people are recommended to stay indoors.

Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed cases in India has increased over 110. The 19 new cases detected include 15 from Maharashtra, which surpassed Kerala as the state with the highest number of reported cases.

UPDATE (March 17, 2020): 

The WHO has urged the countries to test all suspected cases in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. The United States and countries across Europe have closed schools, entertainment venues and all but essential services, in an effort to combat the virus.

Coronavirus cases have surpassed 182,000 all over the world with more than 7,100 deaths. As per the Union Health Ministry, total cases in India have risen to 137, with three deaths due to the virus. The government has put 54,000 people across the country under community surveillance.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation had forbidden airlines from ferrying travelers from the European Union, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh have shut down schools and colleges till April 2 amidst the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido has lifted its state of emergency, less than three weeks after its governor, Naomichi Suzuki asked residents to remain indoors after a spike in the number of local cases of the virus.

In the US, the virus has now spread to all 50 states. California will likely need nearly 20,000 additional hospital beds to treat patients and is looking at bringing a Navy ship to serve as a floating hospital. There are 598 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the state, a 21 percent increase from the previous day.

Meanwhile, Australia has announced a travel ban to the country for all non-residents and non-citizens, affecting 9 pm, March 19 evening.

Italy has reported an additional 475 deaths from the virus and France imposed a draconian lockdown unseen during peacetime.

The coronavirus has now infected more than 200,000 people and killed more than 8,000 globally, with over 83,000 people having recovered from the infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more “aggressive” action to curb coronavirus in Southeast Asia after the European Union, now at the epicentre of the pandemic, moved to seal off its borders.

Meanwhile, the Indian subcontinent has reported a total of 169 confirmed cases, including 25 foreigners. 15 out of the 169 have either been cured, discharged or migrated out of the country.

Amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, a recent study, which has not been yet peer-reviewed, showed that blood group A is at high risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. The study undertaken by the Chinese researchers focused on 2,173 patients with COVID-19 from three hospitals in Wuhan and Shenzhen.

Analysis of the data revealed that blood group A had a significantly higher risk for COVID-19 compared with non-A blood groups. The team compared the distribution of blood types in the normal population in each area with their samples of patients with the virus in each area.

According to the study, the normal population in Wuhan has a blood type distribution of 31 percent type A, 24 percent type B, 9 percent type AB, and 34 percent type O. Whereas, those with the virus were distributed as 38 percent type A, 26 percent type B, 10 percent type AB, and 25 percent type O.

UPDATE (March 20, 2020):

The death toll in Italy has risen in the last 24 hours by 427 to 3,405, surpassing the total number of deaths so far registered in China, officials said, as the tally worldwide nears 10,000.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Italy has reached over 41,000, while cases in Germany, Iran and Spain rose to more than 15,000 each. COVID-19 cases in the US have also reached past 14,000, while the number of deaths hit 200, forcing the state of California to order a statewide lockdown. Malaysia has reported 900 confirmed cases of a novel coronavirus, the highest number in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, the world has stepped up efforts against the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak by closing schools, shutting down cities and imposing strict border controls.

UPDATE (March 21, 2020):

As per the recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, COVID-19 can live in the air and on surfaces from several hours to several days, depending n various conditions. The study has found that the virus is viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. It is also detectable in the air for three hours.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Italy has left the whole world concerned and scared. The Italian government has called on the military to enforce lockdown in the country amidst the rising deaths. There have been over 47,000 cases with more than 4,000 deaths, the death toll has surpassed the number of fatalities in China. Nearly 6,000 new cases were confirmed within the last 24 hours.

In order to curb the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus, Google has launched a website to inform the public about essential information pertaining to COVID-19 guidance and testing. The site, which is currently focused on the United States, details resources and links regarding the deadly respiratory illness, and in the next several days, the website will be available in more languages and countries.

UPDATE (March 22, 2020):

According to leading Rhinologists in the UK, a sudden loss of smell, known as ansomia or hyposmia, could be a symptom of coronavirus, even if the patients experience no other symptoms.

As suggested by the evidence from South Korea, China and Italy, many COVID-19 patients may have experienced the loss of smell, therefore, the British Association of Otorhinolaryngology has called on authorities to advise anyone with loss of smell and taste to self-isolate.

UPDATE (March 23, 2020): 

A team of researchers has reported that nearly 70 drugs and experimental compounds may be effective in treating the coronavirus. According to them, some of the medications are already used to treat other diseases, and repurposing them to treat Covid-19 may be faster than trying to invent a new antiviral from scratch. 

The list of drug candidates appeared in a study published on the web site bioRxiv. The researchers have submitted the paper to a journal for publication.

New Zealand has 102 confirmed coronavirus cases with no casualties, while China has reported no new coronavirus cases in the Hubei region for the fifth straight day. In the US, the total number of cases surpassed 35,200 with 471 deaths. New York has the most 15, 160 confirmed cases in the country.

The total number of cases in Italy has reached over 59,100 and more than 5,400 deaths, with 651 dead in one day. The number of people killed in France by the novel coronavirus increased by another 112 to a total of 674.

A total of 16,018 cases of infection had been recorded in France while warning this was an “underestimate” as not all of those with the virus had been tested, even though 4,000 tests were now being done every day.

Meanwhile, Canada has announced that it won’t send a team to this year’s Tokyo Olympics amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak unless the event is postponed. Australia is planning for the possibility of a postponement.

This news comes after Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said for the first time that postponing the Games is a possibility, and the International Olympics Committee said it was considering rescheduling.

UPDATE (March 24, 2020):

While the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has reached all across the world, the US government and Chinese government seems to be playing the blame game over the origin and misinformation of the virus that has taken lives of over 16,500 and infected more than 381,600 people, worldwide.

Meanwhile, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the US has crossed above 46,400 with over 550 casualties.

South Korea reported 76 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and nine more deaths. South Korea now has a total of at least 9,037 cases and 120 deaths, whereas Italy has a total number of cases over 63,900 with 6,077 deaths. The country recorded 602 new deaths on March 23.

In the UK, the number of those who have died from the disease the virus causes, COVID-19, increased by 54, bringing the toll in the country to 335 among 6,650 cases. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered residents across the country to stay at home.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned “the pandemic is accelerating” with it taking 67 days for cases to reach the 100,000 mark globally, 11 days for cases to reach 200,000 and just four days for cases to reach 300,000.

UPDATE (March 25, 2020):

An increasing number of countries around the world are closing borders and locking down cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus — but such measures are not “sustainable,” said an expert on infectious disease epidemiology.

India’s 1.3 billion people have joined the global lockdown triggered by the coronavirus, as the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern at the acceleration of the pandemic in the United States and Italy recorded another large increase in deaths from COVID-19.

India’s “total lockdown” began at midnight (18:30 GMT on Tuesday) and will continue for 21 days.

In Italy, where more people have died than anywhere else in the world, the death toll rose to 6,820.

The WHO has warned the United States, the country with the most cases after China and Italy, risked becoming the next epicentre of the outbreak even as the country’s President Donald Trump, insisted the country could be back to work in three weeks. There have been 53,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country.

The number of new cases in South Korea jumped by 100, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It reported six new deaths. That brings the country’s total to 9,137 confirmed cases, and 126 fatalities.

In Europe, Spain recorded more than 700 deaths over the past 24 hours, surpassing China in the total death toll, making the country now second to only Italy.

UPDATE (March 26, 2020):

The royal office has announced that Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II’s son and the heir to the British throne, has tested positive for coronavirus and is now self-isolating in Scotland. This creates concerns as to whom the Prince has been in contact with, in the royal family.

The Prince of Wales is only displaying mild symptoms and is otherwise in good health, Clarence House said in a statement. It is unknown how the 71-year-old caught the virus because of his recent busy schedule of public events.

The Queen, 93, remains in “good health” and is “following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Italy reported 683 new deaths in the coronavirus pandemic, bringing its total to 7,503, whereas Spain has confirmed a total number of cases over 46,500 with more than 3,600 deaths.

US leaders struck an agreement on a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses, and a healthcare system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.

However, the deal seemed to have stalled, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached over 69,000 with more than 1,000 deaths.

UPDATE (March 27, 2020):

According to two new reports, three babies in China may have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus in the womb shortly before birth. However, experts say that the evidence in these cases is inconclusive and does not prove that novel coronavirus can pass from mother to child during pregnancy. Further research on the matter will prove or discard this theory.

Meanwhile, in the United States, more than 83,500 people have tested positive for COVID-19, edging out Italy, which has reported the most deaths, and China, where the virus was first detected in December in the metropolis of Wuhan.

Italy has a total of 80,500 patients with over 8,200 deaths, whereas China has recorded more than 81,200 cases with over 3,200 casualties. The US has surpassed the highest number of confirmed cases, with New York emerging as epicenter with more than 37,200 infected cases.

Millions of 15-minute home coronavirus tests are set to be available on the high street or for Amazon delivery to people self-isolating, according to Public Health England (PHE), in a move that could restore many people’s lives to a semblance of pre-lockdown normality.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that he has tested positive for coronavirus after experiencing mild symptoms and is now self-isolating at 10 Downing Street in line with the medical advice.

Meanwhile, a 101-year-old man has been released from hospital after recovering from the novel coronavirus. The man was admitted to hospital in Rimini, northeast Italy, last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and has recovered within a week.

UPDATE (March 28, 2020):

More than 100,000 people in the United States have now been infected with the coronavirus, a grim milestone that comes on the same day the national death toll surpassed 1,500. Earlier this week the country surpassed the case totals in China and Italy. The number of known cases has risen rapidly in recent days as testing ramped up after weeks of widespread shortages and delays.

Italy recorded its single biggest rise in deaths, with 969 more victims, to bring its total number of fatalities to 9,134. The country now has 86,498 cases, surpassing China to record the grim distinction of the second-most infections in the world, behind the U.S.

Spain’s Health Ministry reported another 7,800 infections for a total of 64,059. Deaths climbed by 769 to 4,858 — the world’s second-highest total after Italy’s 8,214 fatalities. Spain says 9,444 health workers have contracted the coronavirus. That’s nearly 15% of the total number of cases.

For the past two days, New Yorkers have been dying at a rate of one every 17 minutes, according to the latest citywide statistics. On both Thursday and Friday, another 84 people died in the city from the coronavirus, as the number of positive cases and of those who are critically ill also climbed.

The COVID-19 death toll in the city was 450 as of Friday evening, up from 366 reported fatalities in the morning. Total citywide coronavirus cases rose to 26,697, up 4.4 percent from the 25,573 earlier today.

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has surged by 919 to 9,134, easily the highest daily tally since the epidemic emerged on February 21. Before that, the largest daily toll was registered on March 21, when 793 people died.

The total number of confirmed cases rose to 86,498 from a previous 80,539, taking Italy’s total past that of China, where the coronavirus epidemic emerged at the end of last year. The United States already surpassed China’s tally of cases.

UPDATE (March 30, 2020):

The virus is rapidly spreading through US and the death toll is rising. To avert more chaos and crisis, President Donald Trump has extended the voluntary national shutdown for a month, bowing to public-health experts who told him the coronavirus pandemic could claim over 100,000 lives in the country, if not enough is done to fight it.

The total number of cases in the US has escalated far more than that of China and Italy, and has reached over 142,500 with more than 2,500 deaths. Meanwhile, Italy and Spain have also witnessed rise in number of infections – over 97,600 and 80,100 respectively.

According to media reports, a 57-year-old female shrimp seller in China’s Wuhan city has been identified as one of the first victims of coronavirus, which has claimed nearly 40,000 lives, worldwide. The coronavirus ‘patient zero’, who made a full recovery in January after month-long treatment, believes the Chinese government could have checked the spread of the disease had it acted sooner.

The patient developed a cold in early December, believed it to be common cold and went to a local clinic for treatment where she was given an injection. However, her illness persisted and she visited the hospital a couple of times.

If the medical system had been more efficient and careful, the world could have been saved from the pandemic.

UPDATE (March 31, 2020):

Spain has reported 849 new deaths from the coronavirus, the highest overnight jump since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 8,189. The US has over 164,000 confirmed cases, the highest number in the world, and more than 3,000 deaths.

Around the world, more than 800,000 people have been confirmed to have the virus, and nearly 165,000 have recovered. More than 37,500 people have died.

The Netherlands has reported 175 new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing its total number of fatalities to 1,039. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed infections increased by 845 to 12,595, the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health said.

Italy’s government said that it would extend its nationwide lockdown measures against a coronavirus outbreak, due to end on Friday, at least until the Easter season in April, as the number of new infections declines.

The death toll has risen by 812 in the last 24 hours, reversing two days of declines, although the number of new cases rose by just 4,050, the lowest increase since 17 March, reaching a total of 101,739.

UPDATE (April 1, 2020):

Chinese health authorities has began reporting on asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus as part of an effort to allay public fears that people could be spreading the virus without knowing they are infected with it. Besides the asymptomatic cases, there are reports of 35 new imported cases.

The authorities revealed the presence of 1,541 asymptomatic cases carrying COVID-19 coronavirus, that has raised concerns of a second wave of infections amid the relaxation of stringent measures in the country that were initiated to contain the deadly disease in the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, as the China reopened its markets, the sales of bats, pangolins and other animals for human consumption. Seems like the people have not learnt the lesson from the coronavirus outbreak. However, the markets are under watchful eyes of guards, who ensure no one is able to take pictures of the blood-soaked floors, slaughtering of dogs and rabbits, and scared animals cramped in cages.

The total number of deaths in US from the coronavirus pandemic reached over 4,000 early today, more than double the number from three days earlier. The number of deaths was 4,076 — more than twice the 2,010 recorded on March 28.

The number of confirmed US cases has reached 189,510, the most in the world, though Italy and Spain have recorded more fatalities.

Spain’s health authorities confirmed that the total number of coronavirus cases in the country increased by 9,222 to 94,417, a higher daily rise in new cases than on Sunday and Monday, when 6,549 and 6,398 new cases were confirmed respectively.
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