Virus threatens the global community

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Justin Van't Hof

A new virus stemming from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is plaguing Chinese citizens. The virus goes by the Name COVID-19 and as of Jan. 22, there are over 440 cases and 17 deaths. COVID-19 which started in China has spread to five different countries including the United States. If the global community doesn’t come together to find a cure, this virus could spread and cause even more casualties, not only in China but all over the world. It is important that as U.S. citizens we continue to urge our government to increase safety measures. The spread of this virus is not simply a Chinese issue but an issue that threatens the safety of the world.

 “UPDATE: Report estimates 4,000 cases #coronavirus #2019nCoV Our estimate at 4,000 cases is more than double the past estimate due to an increase in the number of cases outside China. This should not be interpreted as implying the outbreak has doubled in size,” a Tweet by MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease said.

The virus is believed to have started in animals and has since spread to people, replicating many repertory illnesses. Because the virus is contagious through air-borne pathogens it has raised major alarms in Chinese cities.  

Wuhan, China with a population of 11 million has become one of the most infected cities. Nearly 444 cases in the city alone have caused city officials to close down public transportation and flights to urge citizens not to leave. The World Health Organization (WHO) is meeting with other nations to take steps to combat the spread of this disease.

“WHO has been in regular and direct contact with Chinese as well as Japanese, Korean and Thai authorities since the reporting of these cases. The three countries have shared information with WHO under the International Health Regulations. WHO is also informing other countries about the situation and providing support as requested,” according to a report by the World Health Organization.

Currently, there are no active plans from the global community to come up with a cure for the virus. If nations continue to wait to take action the virus will spread and the ramifications could be devastating. Shutting down Wuhan is not nearly enough to stop the spread of the virus.

“Total volume of international travel from Wuhan over the last two months has been 3,301 passengers per day. This estimate is derived from the 3,418 foreign passengers per day,” according to a study by Imperial College London.

Some nations might be hesitant to commit to funding ways to stop a virus that has not spread to their country. At a time with world politics being severely polarized it may be hard to find a common solution to the problem. The outcome could be similar to the global climate summit earlier in the year where the world’s nations were unable to commit to a global consensus on how to address climate change.  

“Delays in confirming and reporting exported cases and incomplete information about dates of symptom onset together with the still very small numbers of exported cases mean we are unable to estimate the epidemic growth rate at the current time,” according to the study by the Imperial College London.

Because of the lack of cooperation between the global communities, it is nearly impossible to understand how fast the virus is spreading. Currently, the people of China are preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year and many celebrations have been canceled. A Lunar New Year prayer-giving ceremony at the city’s Guiyuan Temple, which attracted 700,000 people last year, has also been canceled.

“We assume that outbound trip durations are long enough that an infected Wuhan resident traveling internationally will develop symptoms and be detected overseas, rather than being detected after returning to Wuhan,” The report relays. “We also do not account for the fact that international visitors to Wuhan (such as the case who was detected in Japan) might be expected to have a shorter duration of exposure and thus a lower infection risk than residents.”

It is imperative that we continue to push our government into working with the global community to increase safety measures. Although the virus is currently primarily in China, if we do not tackle it quickly the safety of the world is at risk.