The coronavirus outbreak has been the talk of the world for a couple of weeks now. Originating in China, it is a new virus and its incubation period (the period between which the virus infects the body and the symptoms appear) can be between 3 to14 days. It is very similar to the severe 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, only the mortality rate is way below. It was first identified in the provincial capital of Wuhan, Hubei. Being highly contagious, it can even spread before the symptoms start to show, but it is important to understand this is rare. The probability of it spreading through a symptomatic person through coughing and sneezing makes more sense. Because the symptoms do not appear immediately, most of the patients were not hospitalized before five days of being affected.
According to a study published by Chinese authors in the New England Journal Of Medicine, the spread of the virus commenced in the mid of December. The analysis showed that a majority of the early cases were linked to the Huanan market which is a wholesale market for seafood.
Recent studies state that each infected person on average will infect about two to three other people. This number is called the reproduction number by epidemiologists. Some of these studies were based on probability models while others on regression analysis of cases over various time durations. With an estimated 2.2 reproduction rate, there is a threat of coronavirus becoming a pandemic if this number cannot be reduced fast enough.
Chinese officials announced that the infection could peak or even subside by 8th Feb however experts from other countries say it may take many weeks for the virus to the peak. The credibility of the studies is limited to early data before control measures and travel restrictions were levied, pointed researchers. The stats are constantly changing with new facts and information coming to light.
Nations one after the other are imposing stringent travel restrictions on people from china from passing in. The WHO confirmed 146 cases (and is still counting) of the coronavirus outside china. In India, two cases have be identified in the state of Kerala. Patients are currently kept in isolation as there is no vaccine to actually treat it thoroughly. Authorities in China are relying on physical interventions, quarantine, and lockdowns imposed on entire cities. The shortage of protective supplies, especially masks, goggles, and gloves is becoming a matter of concern in China. Until a vaccine is invented, we are at a high risk of the coronavirus infection becoming a planetary crisis.