Coronavirus infection rate overtakes 2003 SARS epidemic, WHO declares global emergency

Coronavirus infection rate overtakes 2003 SARS epidemic, WHO declares global emergency
Source: WHO

The Wuhan coronavirus also known as 2019-nCoV has affected nearly 10,000 people, with 213 dead, as of January 30. There are 9,692 confirmed cases with a death toll of 213, including 43 new fatalities, surpassing the 8,098 people worldwide who were affected by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in its 2003 outbreak.

More than 50 million people are placed under virtual quarantine, mostly in the Hubei province where the virus originated. No deaths have been confirmed outside of China so far.

SARS is also a type of coronavirus that similarly originated in China, first recognized in 2003. The coronavirus family is zoonotic, which means that the virus can be passed on from animals to humans. However, human-to-human transmission has been identified.

Cured patients

From January 23 to January 30, China’s National Health Commission reported 596 of patients who were “cured” from the virus and have been discharged from medical facilities. The first patient to be cured said that he left the hospital in China’s Zhejiang Province after a week-long treatment. “They provided round-the-clock care. I could recover and leave the hospital, only because of their proper treatment,” said the man surnamed Yang.

Yang’s brother said that recognizing the virus at an early stage and getting treatment promptly had helped the situation greatly. The hospital’s chief physician, Dai Jianyi says there is no reason for people to panic as medical facilities have a “guideline” on treating and controlling the virus.

No confirmed vaccine or cure for the 2019-nCoV has been reported. Hospitals in China have, however, been administering anti-HIV medications such as lopinavir and ritonavir, which is said to target both human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the coronavirus from replicating themselves, in an effort to treat the coronavirus.

WHO declares coronavirus a global emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the deadly coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency on January 30.

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing.

According to the WHO, these are the latest statistics of the coronavirus reported in 18 countries outside of China:

  • 14 cases in Thailand and Japan
  • 13 cases in Singapore
  • 8 cases in Australia and Malaysia
  • 11 cases in South Korea
  • 5 cases in France and the United States