Coronavirus Confirmed in the U.S.: How Big is the Risk?

coronavirus, outbreak, U.S., China

As of January 27, the World Health Organization (WHO) affirms that the global risk level of the coronavirus is risk is “very high in China, high at the regional level, and high at the global level.” The U.S. State Department is also advising citizens not to travel to China. 

Five cases have shown up in the U.S., in California (2), Arizona, Chicago, and Seattle. Those affected are all people who had recently completed travel in Wuhan, China. In addition to China and the U.S., cases have also appeared in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, the U.S., Australia, and France.        

As of now the death toll in China is 81 people. Over 2,800 people have been affected overall, and that number could rise to 190,000.

What is coronavirus?

The virus, discovered in December 2019, is called “2019 novel coronavirus” or 2019-nCoV. It is thought to have originated in the city of Wuhan at a seafood and animal market from an animal, though some experts say it could have originated earlier than that. The virus can now be transmitted from human to human. 

People infected with coronavirus generally have pneumonia-like symptoms at first that can then evolve to more serious conditions including septic shock, acute kidney injury, virus-induced cardiac injury, and secondary bacterial pneumonia.

So far, the coronavirus has a 3 percent mortality rate, compared with 1 percent for the flu and 10 percent for SARS. Once more data come in, researchers will be able to estimate the mortality rate more accurately. It would take at least a year to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. 

What is being done?

Several cities in China are locked down to prohibit the spreading of the virus, including major tourist destinations such as Beijing’s Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are screening any passengers coming into the U.S. from Wuhan at the following airports: JFK in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago-O’Hare.

The CDC has developed a test for the coronavirus that they will be able to make more widely available in the next few weeks.

To be tested by the CDC, a patients must have:

  • A fever
  • Cough or difficulty breathing
  • Recent travel to China
  • Close contact with someone with the virus

Key takeaways

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said, “We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not.” 

The U.S. is working to get the American diplomats who are in Wuhan evacuated to the U.S. this week.


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