The current Corona virus outbreak first occurred in the city of Wuhan, China. Since then, it has exploded. As of today there are over 81,000 confirmed cases of Corona and almost 2800 have perished. 30,000 have successfully recovered.
The other day Rush Limbaugh was downplaying the seriousness of Corona, calling it the common cold. That was ignorant. The mortality rate thus far exceeds the common cold and in Iran it’s particularly bad. We really don’t know what the mortality rate really is and won’t until the dust settles.
This is map of infections as of Feb. 10.
You can find an interactive map here.
Citizens of cities in China have been ordered to remain in their homes. There are now outbreaks in South Korea and Italy and so far the lines of transmission have yet to be determined. Iran admits to 139 cases and 19 deaths but they continue to be secretive about the true numbers.
Corona is not from bat soup. In this article a finger is pointed at snakes at the wet market. I am still finding this difficult to accept because of the sheer virulence of the virus.
An interesting wrinkle has been added to this story:
A Chinese general with a long record in biological warfare defense was dispatched to Wuhan at the end of January, fueling suspicions about the origin of the deadly virus and whether the outbreak is linked to a secure medical laboratory engaged in COVID-19 research.
People’s Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Chen Wei joined the effort to contain the outbreak in Wuhan, the state-run Pengbai news outlet reported Jan. 31, describing the general as “our nation’s ultimate expert” in biological and chemical weapon defenses.
Gen. Chen was credited with working on the fight against the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, and the Ebola virus outbreak a decade later. According to the Pengbai report, Gen. Chen also is the leader of a team of experts at China’s Biological Hazards Prevention and Control Program.
A research paper which was offered and then withdrawn suggested that this Corona virus was developed in a lab. This is the abstract from that paper.
The 2019-nCoV has caused an epidemic of 28,060 laboratory-confirmed infections in human including 564 deaths in China by February 6, 2020. Two descriptions of the virus published on Nature this week indicated that the genome sequences from patients were almost identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus. It was critical to study where the pathogen came from and how it passed onto human. An article published on The Lancet reported that 27 of 41 infected patients were found to have contact with the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. We noted two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus in Wuhan, one of which was only 280 meters from the seafood market. We briefly examined the histories of the laboratories and proposed that the coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory. Our proposal provided an alternative origin of the coronavirus in addition to natural recombination and intermediate host.
What peaks one’s curiosity is the reported use of HIV drugs to combat the Corona virus:
China is using HIV drugs to treat the deadly coronavirus as experts search for a cure, according to a report.
Beijing officials with China’s National Health Commission said two drugs used to combat HIV are being recommended to treat pneumonia symptoms from the virus, Bloomberg reported.
Patients are being advised to take tablets of lopinavir and Ritonavir twice a day, the outlet reported.
China was allegedly warned in 2017 that a virus could escape its Level 4 Biohazard lab:
After the 2003 SARS epidemic, China constructed the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory (Level 4) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 2015. The aim was to prepare for and respond to future infectious disease outbreaks.
The lab — the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory (Level 4) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences — works with and studies the world’s most dangerous pathogens such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Ebola. However, scientists had warned in 2017 that a dangerous virus could escape the lab. According to Nature, some scientists outside China were worried about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a “biological dimension to geopolitical tensions” between China and other nations.
The market is 900 feet from the lab.
Being the cynic I am, I cannot shake the feeling that this is an escaped virus from the Wuhan lab. A lab rat (lab worker) may have gotten sloppy with HAZMAT technique and carried it outside. Now there is more bad news. You might not be better when you think you are better:
Authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan introduced a 14-day mandatory quarantine this weekend for patients who had supposedly recovered from the coronavirus after some discharged patients again tested positive for the disease.
Saturday afternoon, all patients who had recovered and been discharged were forced to return to quarantine, the city’s coronavirus treatment and control command center announced on the Chinese social media site Weibo.
The new arrangements were announced after disease control experts warned that those who had supposedly made a recovery from the virus may have not done so after all and may still carry the virus and present a consequent contagion risk.
Wuhan and the wider Hubei province continue to account for the vast majority of coronavirus cases across China where around 78,000 people have been infected and nearly 2,500 have died. Many have questioned these official figures from the Communist Party.
Some experts warned that the current way by which Chinese doctors define when a patient is “cured” may be insufficient. Zhao Jianping, a doctor in Hubei, explained to Southern People Weekly last week that the issue was causing major difficulties as resources are already stretched.
This is the CDC’s advice to avoid infection:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Two months ago I opined that all non-emergency travel to and from China should be suspended. It remains my opinion today.