Saish Satyal, Editor

A new, rapidly-spreading virus in China has begun to gain worldwide attention.  Its symptoms and effects can range from that of the common cold, pneumonia, or SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), to even death. This coronavirus in China is theorized to have originated in Wuhan as a result of citizens exchanging infected animals, such as bats. Another source of origin may have been a seafood market that also sold live animals. It has spread through sneezes, coughs, and physical contact. Normally, coronaviruses rarely gets passed on to humans from animals, and even if they do, it’s not likely that a human can get another human infected unless they maintain close contact. However, the Chinese Health Commission confirmed that this virus can be spread by human contact, which has caused panic across the globe.

According to reports from the Chinese government, 60,000 people have contracted the virus and over 1000 have died (as of February 12th). China has quarantined an estimated 56 million people inside of its cities, but the disease has continued to spread rapidly to neighboring countries and now, to the United States. It should also be noted that the Chinese government shouldn’t exactly be trusted, especially based on previous responses to diseases like this one. According to individual reports from doctors in Wuhan, the estimated number of infected actually reaches 100,000. Doctors and staff are severely overworked and there aren’t enough hospital beds to treat the patients that are being admitted. Multiple videos have been posted on Chinese social media showing sick patients crowding the hallways, with many on the floor, and some of them already dead. Apparently, most of the victims won’t be able to make it since doctors have been unable to treat them properly because of the massive amount of cases. Some Chinese doctors have been rejecting certain people that may have had the coronavirus, refusing to test many incoming patients, mainly classifying them as people with “severe pneumonia.” Many doctors and nurses are  vulnerable to being infected by the virus since they don’t have the HAZMAT-level protective clothing required to shield against the disease. While some doctors have received those suits, most medical professionals are forced to work with only a surgical mask to cover themselves. Of course, the Chinese government has warned that the coronavirus is spreading faster and they expect the situation to get worse. As the world watches this horror unfold in China, many are afraid of a new global epidemic, akin to the Black Death or the Spanish Flu.

With the advancement of modern technology and travel, the virus can spread further and faster than ever before. Many countries, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Canada have reported patients who have contracted the coronavirus. The fears of a global epidemic aren’t unfounded, and with an infectious disease that presents itself like the common cold, the likelihood of people disregarding initial symptoms is very high. A viable vaccine has been estimated to be one year away, but we don’t know how much the virus could mutate in that time. On a lighter note, Plague Inc. has experienced a rise in sales after reports of the virus.

Sadly, there is not much that is known at this time. We are still in the first stages of this disease, but chilling videos on social media, growing death reports, rumors of cover-up by the Chinese government, rapid spread of confirmed cases, and the severity of the disease are all things that must not be taken lightly. Unless swift preventative measures are taken to prohibit travel and quarantine China, like the world did with Ebola in Africa, who knows what may happen next.