For the first time since 1949, outbound transportation from a provincial capital in China is being shut down, in response to an outbreak of a novel coronavirus infection, reports the Washington Post, in the middle of the busiest travel season of the year. About 400 million people are expected to be in transit before Lunar New Year’s Day.
Human-to-human transmission of this animal virus has now been reported. “Species jumping of zoonotic (animal) diseases is a constant threat, especially when humans live close to animals,” stated Physicians for Civil Defense president Jane M. Orient, M.D. “Mutations and mixing and matching in genetic material of viral strains can produce highly transmissible, lethal strains to which humans have no immunity.”
The report of 800 cases in China, centered in the city of Wuhan, is believed to be a gross underestimate, and a few cases have been reported in Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S., Dr. Orient stated.
At a Wuhan hospital, staff members are reportedly not being allowed to resign or leave the city.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, and difficulty breathing. Patients may get a severe pneumonia.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—which on Tuesday activated its Emergency Response System—said it had been preparing for the possibility of 2019-nCoV entering the U.S. “for weeks.”
The CDC claims to have made great strides in preparedness since the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) crisis in 2003. Yet despite spending $80 billion on a National Biologic Defense, the U.S. is arguably no better prepared than it was in 1918, when the great influenza pandemic killed more people than the Black Death, according to Steven Hatfill, M.D., and coauthors in their new book Three Seconds until Midnight.
Vaccine and effective antiviral drugs are lacking, and in an epidemic non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) would be key. These include eye protection, N-95 masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfection of surfaces, where infective virus can persist for days, when caring for a sick person, Dr. Orient noted.
Individuals and local authorities must be alert and prepared and not depend on a timely federal response, Dr. Orient stated.
Physicians for Civil Defense distributes information to help to save lives in the event of war or other disaster.
SOURCE Physicians for Civil Defense