Understanding the Coronavirus


(A man believed to be Hong Kong’s first coronavirus case – New York Times)

Kaylee DeWalt, Staff

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As the death toll in China rises to a staggering 1,305, the coronavirus continues to showcase its steady spread around the world. Today, there are about 60,000 official reported cases, but many outside sources have predicted that numbers may even be higher. However, experts urge caution about the creation of estimates. Much about how the disease is spread and how many people who left Wutang with the virus is unknown, which leads many to make untrustworthy predictions. 


Where it All Started

The first reported case in China was on December 8, 2019. It wasn’t till the end of the month on the 30th and 31st, when 27 cases of pneumonia of unknown causes were reported. Many of the 27 patients were linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China. 

(A man who may have the coronavirus gets taken to the hospital- New York Times)

As the month of January continued, the number of infected rose. However, nothing could prepare Wuhan and the rest of China for the disastrous effects that would follow one of the most popular holidays in Southeast Asia, Lunar New Year. 




The Importance of Wuhan and Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year (sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year) is the largest annual human migration. During the time period of travel that revolves around New Year, also known as Chunyun season, about 3 billion people travel throughout China. 

(A little girl in Wuhan travels home after the public festivities in Wuhan were cancelled -Aljazeera)

As China’s tenth largest city, with 8 million permanent residents, Wuhan’s concerning, but not extremely noteworthy outbreak was catalyzed by the travel during Chunyun season. On January 23, just two days before the New Year, Wuhan and Beijing both banned all public gatherings and enforced a tighter travel ban in Wuhan’s province, Hebei, and the provinces around it. However, despite China’s best efforts, the virus has now spread to all 23 provinces. 




Stopping the Spread

China has been quick to push measures that would halt the virus’s spread; however, little could be done to stop spread within China. In just a week, the number of cases has substantially grown. In just one day, over 15,000 new cases were reported in the Hebei province. This growth is mostly due to the fact that Chinese medical officials have expanded their diagnostic tools.

(A woman sits alone on the usually cramped subway in Beijing- Aljazeera)

So far, most countries, such as France and the U.S. have started to evacuate their citizens from the Hebei province and quarantine them for ten days in their own country. With the virus expanding to all the other provinces, it can be expected for world governments to start evacuating their citizens from all of China, or at least the places where the virus has started to concentrate. 




A Global Health Emergency

On January 30th, the World Health Organization, a.k.a W.H.O, announced the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. This comes shortly after the U.S. had its first domestic human to human transmission of the virus.


“Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield. “We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”


(Two children wear plastic bottles over their heads to protect themselves from the virus – The Australian)

With this declaration made by W.H.O, countries apart of the United Nations are now able to take widespread measures against the spread of the virus, whether that means they close their borders or ban travel to certain countries.