- A coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed at least 304 people and infected nearly 14,400.
- The virus has spread to at least 24 other countries — including the US, which confirmed its first case of human-to-human transmission on Thursday.
- Authorities quarantined the entire city of Wuhan and many other cities, with all transportation halted.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The death toll of a coronavirus outbreak sweeping China has reached at least 304, with 14,380 people infected as of late Saturday.
Cases have spread to every province and region in China as well at least 24 other countries. The total number of cases has surpassed the global case count recorded during the 2003 SARS outbreak.
The virus might have jumped from animals to people at a market in the city of Wuhan. Outside of China, cases have been reported in Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the US, and Vietnam.
Seven US cases have been reported so far: a man in his 30s in Washington state, a husband and wife in Chicago (the man caught it from his spouse), three people in California, one in Arizona.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week that the virus was spreading quickly and posed a "grave threat," and the World Health Organization declared a public-health emergency on Thursday.
Here's everything we know:
The first case of the coronavirus was reported in Wuhan in December. The central Chinese city has a population of 11 million.
The virus' pneumonia-like symptoms include fever and difficulty breathing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person could be at risk if they have:
- Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as coughing or difficulty breathing, after traveling to Wuhan or having close contact with someone who was ill and is now under investigation for the virus in the past two weeks.
- Fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness after having close contact in the past two weeks with someone who’s been confirmed to have the virus.
Chinese health officials say the incubation period for the virus ranges from 1 to 14 days, during which time carriers can be infectious.
The virus has killed at least 259 people.
“The people who are likely to die first will have other illnesses,” Adrian Hyzler, the chief medical officer at Healix International, which offers risk-management solutions for global travelers, told Business Insider. “But as it spreads, it’ll pick up more people like flu does.”
Most patients who died were elderly or otherwise unwell, according to Chinese officials. But one recent victim was a 36-year-old man.
Nearly 11,800 people have been infected.
The virus has spread to at least 24 other countries.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global public-health emergency.
“Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. “We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.”
For now, the WHO doesn’t recommend limiting the movement of travel and trade.
“This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China,” Ghebreyesus added. “I have never seen in my life this kind of mobilization.”
The global health emergency declaration has only been used five times since it was created in 2005.
“They only do this for extraordinary illnesses that are of international concern,” Hyzler said. “Suddenly the world is alerted to a much greater extent and they’ll start pouring a lot more assistance and aid to airports, to transport hubs, and do their best to control this outbreak.”
The Trump administration announced a travel ban on foreign nationals who have been in China within the last 14 days.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the US is “temporarily suspending the entry into the US of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus.”
He added: “The American public can be assured the full weight of the US government is working to safeguard the health and safety of the American people.”
Source: Business Insider
The total number of cases internationally has surpassed that of the entire SARS outbreak.
SARS also originated in China. It killed 774 people from November 2002 to July 2003.
Chinese authorities launched an investigation into the virus in early January. So far, health experts think this coronavirus is not as deadly as SARS. The two belong to the same coronavirus family, but many other coronaviruses — such as the one that causes the common cold — are not very serious.
This chart shows the rate at which the virus has spread.
But the true number of infected people is probably higher than the official total.
As of January 26, academics from Imperial College London estimated that the true number of infected people could be about 100,000.
Health officials think the coronavirus outbreak might have jumped from animals to people at a seafood market in Wuhan.
They initially said the virus could spread only from animals to humans. But on January 20, Chinese officials confirmed that the virus could be transferred from among people as well.
“It is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon,” Zhong Nanshan, the scientist the Chinese government appointed to lead the effort to battle the virus, said.
Early research suggests the virus may have initially jumped from bats to snakes to humans.
In a paper in the Journal of Medical Virology, researchers said the protein codes favored by the Wuhan virus closely resembled the protein codes in snakes.
Snakes often hunt bats in the wild — and they were sold at the seafood market in Wuhan — so the researchers think the virus may have originated in bats before mutating and infecting humans.
The US confirmed its first case of human-to-human transmission on Thursday.
The case was identified in Chicago, Illinois, where a woman in her 60s transmitted the virus to her husband. She had recently traveled to Wuhan to care for her elderly father, but her husband — who has some underlying health issues — did not travel with her.
He is in stable condition, CDC authorities said on Thursday, and the woman is reportedly doing well, too. The risk to public health in the US is still low, according to the CDC.
There are no vaccines to prevent humans from contracting a coronavirus.
Travelers should wash their hands frequently with soap and water, making sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds, the CDC says.
Chinese officials have warned that the virus is mutating, which could make it harder to control and treat.
Gao Fu, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on January 22 that the virus was adapting and changing — making it harder to fight.
Travelers should also avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Unfortunately, wearing a mask is unlikely to be your best defense.
“There’s little harm in it,” Toner said. “But wearing masks, except in the situation of a healthcare provider, has never been shown to be a very effective way to protect yourself from infectious diseases.”
On January 23, local officials quarantined the city of Wuhan by shutting down all transportation.
All of the city’s public transportation — including buses, metros, ferries, and train — was halted. Trains and airplanes coming into and out of the city were also shut down, and roadblocks were installed to keep taxis and private cars from exiting.
Wuhan’s 11 million residents were told not to leave the city, barring special circumstances.
China has imposed travel restrictions on at least 16 cities in the Hubei province.
Huanggang, a city of about 7.5 million people, placed its urban core under lockdown on January 23, closing subway and train stations as well as theaters and internet cafés.
Additional cities — Ezhou, Chibi, Xiantao, Zhijiang, Qianjjiang, Huangshi, Xianning, Yichang, Enshi, Xiangyang, Jingmen, Xiaogan, Dangyang, and Suizhou — have followed suit with their own travel restrictions.
The restrictions so far affect around 45 million people.
On January 25, the Chinese government barred its citizens from booking overseas tours, flights, and hotel stays.
The move, reported by The New York Times, came as countries around the world have implemented scanning procedures for incoming travelers.
Doctors in Wuhan have reported that there aren't enough resources to treat a rising tide of patients.
A doctor in Wuhan told the BBC on January 23 that thousands of patients were waiting for hours in line to receive medical care. Another doctor told the South China Morning Post that medical workers did not have enough protective gear — and that some were catching the virus as a result.
Test kits have been reserved for patients with the most severe symptoms. That means many diagnoses have been delayed.
Mimi Lau, a reporter at the South China Morning Post, said on January 23 that patients in Wuhan hospitals had likened getting a kit to winning the lottery.
The city is rushing to build two hospitals from scratch.
Construction on the first hospital, the Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital, started last week. The hospital will be around 269,000 square feet and include 1,000 beds. It is due to open on February 3.
The second hospital, the Leishenshan Hospital, will be slightly larger: 323,000 square feet with 1,300 beds. The site’s construction started Monday and the building is due to open on February 5.
Airports around the world have implemented screening protocols.
Twenty US airports — including New York’s JFK airport, Los Angeles International Airport, and Chicago’s O’Hare airport — have started screening passengers for the virus. Airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea are also screening people.
The outbreak came as hundreds of millions prepared to travel for the weeks-long Lunar New Year, which is one of the largest annual human migrations in the world.
The holiday started January 25, and experts worried the surge in travel could boost the virus’ spread.
“This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Wuhan,” Hyzler said.
Beijing canceled its Spring Festival celebrations last week.
Shanghai Disneyland is temporarily closed, along with other attractions.
The park closed January 25 without saying when it would reopen. The announcement came at a time of peak spending at the park, which has said it will refund tickets.
The Badaling section of the Great Wall of China temporarily closed as well.
Several countries, including the US, have evacuated citizens and employees from China.
The US government evacuated some 200 Americans from Wuhan on Tuesday. The passengers arrived at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Wednesday.
Japan also evacuated around 206 Japanese citizens from Wuhan. Twelve of those passengers were hospitalized in Japan after they reported feeling unwell or showed flu-like symptoms.
The CDC issued a travel warning to avoid all nonessential travel to China.
The CDC raised its travel warning to a level three, the highest, which advises US citizens to avoid all nonessential travel to China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that the country faced a "grave situation."
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