What has risen to 106 deaths and more than 2,800 confirmed cases quite quickly, the coronavirus which began in Wuhan, China is causing panic around the world.
There are currently five confirmed cases in Australia, with airport screenings and precautionary safety messages becoming top priority. Ten other Australians are still being investigated, and efforts are being taken to get 100 children stuck in Wuhan home safely.
Australian authorities are encouraging anyone who has felt ill within 14 days of travel to China to seek professional medical advice immediately and isolate themselves. NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant also said any child who has been in contact with an infected person must not attend school or childcare for 14 days afterwards, while some schools are applying these same rules for those who have travelled to China.
2019-nCoV, the temporary name for this coronavirus, is yet to be declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Currently only five diseases have this classification, neither Sars or Mers one of them despite killing around 800 people each.
“Declaring a global public health emergency can unnecessarily affect trade and tourism and imply that a country cannot control the disease on its own” says Tom Solomon, Director of the National Institution for Health Research. The Chinese have acted promptly and responsibly in containing 2019-nCoV, but the rapid spread of the outbreak is causing uncertainty about managing this alone.
It has been revealed by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) that the zoonotic virus came from the Human Seafood Wholesale Market. There is currently investigation to find out which animal caused the outbreak, though bats and/or snakes are speculated to be the cause by scientists.
The long list of questions and unknowns about the coronavirus remains a worry to the public. How infectious the virus is, how will it impact the economy, when will a vaccine be developed and what the fatality rate is likely to be are just some of the concerns had by many.