Today’s Latest News Coronavirus virus :
previously unknown to science – is causing severe lung disease in China and has also been detected in other countries.
There are already more than 4,500 confirmed cases, and experts expect the number will keep rising.
A new virus arriving on the scene, leaving patients with pneumonia, is always a worry and health officials around the world are on high alert.
Can this outbreak be contained or is this something far more dangerous?
New Current Affairs What is this virus?
Officials in China have confirmed the cases are caused by a coronavirus.
These are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which is caused by a coronavirus, Current Affairs killed 774 of the 8,098 people infected in an outbreak that started in China in 2002.
“There is a strong memory of Sars, that’s where a lot of fear comes from, but we’re a lot more prepared to deal with those types of diseases,” Latest News says Dr Josie Golding, from the Wellcome Trust.
Daily Current Affairs How severe are the symptoms?
Around one-in-four cases are thought to be severe.
Notably, the infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose or sneezing.
The coronavirus family itself can cause symptoms ranging from a mild cold all the way through to death.
“When we see a new coronavirus, we want to know how severe are the symptoms. This is more than cold-like symptoms and that is a concern but it is not as severe as Sars,” says Prof Mark Woolhouse, from the University of Edinburgh.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is an emergency in China but decided not to declare an international public health emergency – as it did with swine flu and Ebola.
Today’s Current Affairs How deadly is it?
More than 100 people are known to have died from the virus – but while the ratio of deaths to known cases appears low, the figures are unreliable.
It is far too simplistic to divide the number of deaths by the number of cases to calculate the death rate at this stage of the outbreak.
But the infection seems to take a while to kill, so more of those patients may yet die.
And it is unclear how many unreported cases there are.
Recent Current Affairs Where has it come from?
New viruses are detected all the time.
They jump from one species, where they went unnoticed, into humans.
“If we think about outbreaks in the past, if it is a new coronavirus, it will have come from an animal reservoir,” Recent Current Affairs says Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham.
Many of the early coronavirus cases were linked to the South China Seafood Wholesale Market, in Wuhan.
Sars started off in bats and then infected the civet cat, which in turn passed it on to humans.@BulletinHub