Posted on March 13, 2020 at 12:00 AM
The disease–previously known as coronavirus but now renamedCovid-19 –has reached about 80,969 people in mainland China since then, killing 3,162. Even although the number of new cases in China has sharply slowed down, the disease is now gaining momentum around the world.
According to the John Hopkins UniversityCovid-19 website, which collects information from national and international health agencies, there have been over 40,900 incidents and 1,211 deaths outside of China. The disease was reported in at least 109 countries and territories, with the most common outbreaks outside China happening in South Korea, Italy, and Iran. There were 456 confirmed incidents and six deaths in the UK.
The Chinese government reacted to the initial epidemic by putting Wuhan and neighboring cities in the province of Hubei under a de-facto quarantine that covered about 50 million residents. In Italy, which is facing the largest epidemic outside of China, the government has taken the unusual step of expanding a lockout to the entire country, closing down cinemas, theatres, gyms, discotheques, and pubs and banning funerals and weddings.
Some of the deadliest cases of Covid-19 occurred floating off Japan, on a cruise ship. Onboard the Diamond Princess more than 705 people tested positive for the virus. Before it was quarantined in Yokohama on February 5, the cruise ship was carrying more than 3,700 passengers including 78 Britons. Since 21 passengers on board screened negative for the infection, a second cruise ship is docking in Oakland
The WHO publicly announced on March 11 the outbreak of Covid-19 is a pandemic. "WHO has been monitoring this epidemic around the clock and we are profoundly worried about both the disturbing levels of spread and magnitude and the troubling rates of inaction," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, its Director-General. While on 30 January the WHO declared a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" (PHEIC) for Covid-19, it was hesitant to use the pandemic classification
The outbreak seems to have emerged from a fish market in Wuhan where wild animals, including marmots, rats, rabbits, bats, and snakes, are illegally traded. Coronaviruses are likely to move from animals to humans, and it is suspected that the first people diagnosed with the disease-a population composed mostly of seafood stallholders-acquired it through contact with animals.
Although an initial virus analysis triggeringCovid-19 indicated it was identical to viruses found in snakes, Covid-19's animal origins search is still on. A team of virologists at the Wuhan Institute for Virology published a detailed paper showing that the genetic makeup of the new coronaviruses is 96% close to that of a coronavirus contained in bats, although an as-yet-undisclosed analysis indicates that the genetic variants of coronavirus in pangolins are 99% similar to the human virus. Nevertheless, some early cases of Covid-19 seem to have infected people without any link to the Wuhan market, indicating that the initial route of human infection may predate the market case
On January 1, the Wuhan market was shut down for testing and washing, but by then it appeared that Covid-19 had already started to expand beyond the same city. The branch of the WHO Western Pacific on January 21 said the illness was still being spread among humans–evidence of which is evident after the virus affected medical workers. Since then, evidence of widespread human-to-human transmission outside China has been well developed which makes it much harder to control the virus.
China has borne the brunt of Covid-19 infections (so far). As of March 11, more than 80,969 cases and 3,162 deaths had been reported by Chinese health officials. was the hardest hit province in Hubei, with most infections happening in Wuhan itself.
But the transmission of the disease began to pick up outside of China by mid-February. At least 109 countries and territories currently have confirmed cases. Outside China, Italy has seen the largest number of cases, with infections reported by 10,149 individuals, mainly in the north of the country. The whole country is now lockdown following the expansion of the quarantine in the north of the country on 9 March
South Korea is currently in the midst of a massive epidemic, but the country's number of new cases is beginning to come under pressure. The nation had reported 7,755 confirmed cases and 53 fatalities as of March 9. Most of the cases were located in Daegu's southeastern region, and many of those afflicted by the disease are members of the Shincheonji Church, a clandestine religious group with around 250,000 members in the country.
WHO Chairman Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that "narrowing" is the window of opportunity to produce Covid-19 Latest outbreaks in Italy and Iran, which so far have no direct connection with China, pose a big challenge for health authorities seeking to avoid the virus spread.
On 11 March the WHO called theCovid-19 epidemic a pandemic despite initially delaying the announcement. The agency cited the rapid growth of cases outside of China and the global spread of the disease as reasons behind the designation. In January it also proclaimed the outbreak to be an "international public health emergency"–the highest alert grade for an epidemic of infectious disease.
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