The Wuhan Coronavirus is the latest virus outbreak to have hit the world since late 2019. With more than 8000 confirmed deaths resulting from over 80,000 cases reported, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has declared this a Pandemic.
Glimpses of the past
The Coronavirus (known as Novel Coronavirus) outbreak has caused panic across the world. One cannot but to draw the similarity and resemblance of another deadly virus that hit Asia some time ago. In fact, there have been 2! The SARS and MERS.
SARS and MERS
In 2003, the SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus hit. That would be one of the biggest concerns then after it killed about 8,00 people after infecting over 8,000. The Coronavirus has been compared to the SARS in many ways.
Meanwhile, there is the MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome which took 8 years that spread to more than 2,500 people. The biggest similarity among the 3 viruses is how it has spread and the level of panic it has created across the world. This has not taken into account the various conspiracy theories that have since submerged.
The virus got its name through the Latin word for crown. This is because the virus is rounded with spikes that make it look like a crown. As such, the name Corona was used. Meanwhile, it has been going around with the name Wuhan virus as it was the first place when the virus was detected. Wuhan, a province in the Hebei province of China is also the place with the highest case of infected people and deaths.
Is it originated from bat soup or livestocks or even the nearby Wuhan lab?
As far as reports are concerned, the Coronavirus came from an animal source. There have been talks that it was a virus found in bats and the place is in Wuhan. Some even claimed that it was from an outbreak of an illegal market selling wildlife animals there. Most, if not all of these reports are still untrue and are not supported by any hard evidence. As far as this is concerned, the first case was diagnosed in Wuhan and that has spread throughout the world ever since. As of February 2020, there are still no approved vaccines known to cure this virus.
- SARS have been known to cause death to people from any age
- MERS was more common among older people
- Coronavirus so far has been prevalent among people from any age group
How do they compare?
SARS was a virus believed to have originated from China. So is the Wuhan virus. What makes it scary here is that both the viruses are said to have come from markets selling wild animals. Where this is concerned, the SARS virus was traced back to bats that were then transmitted to the civet cat, which was consumed as a delicacy in some areas of south China.
Meanwhile, the Wuhan virus has been linked with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where there have been claims that wild animals like snakes and raccoon dogs can be purchased. The origin, according to some scientists is that the Wuhan virus came from bats and has been traced to snakes.
The China government banned the slaughter and consumption of civet cats after the SARS outbreak. Since the Wuhan virus outbreak, the Chinese government has banned all trading of wild animals nationwide.
Coronavirus – Spread faster than all other outbreaks
One very significant factor about the Coronavirus is that it has spread a lot faster. The first Coronavirus was confirmed in December 2019. By February 2020, it has risen to more than 8,000 around the world.
SARS meanwhile had 8,098 confirmed cases from November 2002 when it was first detected to July 2003. This means Coronavirus is spreading 3 times faster than SARS. Meanwhile, it must be noted that for every 50 people that has been infected:
- SARS killed 5 – Fatality rate is 9.6%
- MERS killed 17 – Fatality rate is 35%
- Coronavirus killed 1 (as of February 2020)
SARS killed 774 people where it mostly occurred in China and Hong Kong. Coronavirus has caused most deaths in China while other countries are slowly trickling in and that is what is scaring the public.
Panics and Precautions
Since the Wuhan outbreak came into light, there has been a spike in demand for face masks around the region. Pharmacies are finding it hard to meet the demands of its customers who are buying the masks in boxes and truckloads in fear of contracting the virus. This panic buying has not done anyone any favors although not every face mask can prevent the person from contracting this airborne virus.
Is N95 mask really effective?
The truth is, the normal surgical mask CANNOT protect the individual from the virus. One can try to wear it inside-out through in the attempt to try and ‘reverse’ the process of breathing in external air. This, however, is just a practice and has yet to be proven effective. The public is aware that only the N95 respirator can protect you from getting the coronavirus. However, the problem with this mask is that it cannot be used for long periods of time and was not designed to be used in public.
Possibility of Biochemical Weapon against China
And then there are the stories circulating that the virus was one of the biochemical weapons released by some superpowered government against China. The general public is advised to check and verify the news sources as such reports are rumors and are targeted to create more unrest. The most important thing now is to be vigilant and avoid crowded areas. Try not to visit China while the outbreak is at its peak. Find ways to solve the problem, not worsen it.