There has been widespread concern and even anxiety about the rapid spread of the coronavirus across several continents. So how worried should we be? Whilst the trajectory of this outbreak is impossible to predict, and the situation is rapidly evolving, here is what we know so far about the current outbreak.
Human coronaviruses (HCoVs) have long been considered inconsequential, causing the “common cold” in otherwise healthy people. However, the emergence of the SARS-CoV in the early 2000s and MERS-CoV in 2012 caused global epidemics with alarming morbidity and mortality.
The current outbreak is caused by a novel (new) strain from the coronavirus family. This virus is so new that it does not yet have a name- it is currently being labelled by the WHO as the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.
The virus is thought to have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan, a central Chinese city. Currently, all confirmed cases of the virus in Australia are in individuals who have recently visited Wuhan. There have not been any human-human transmission occurring in Australia, although such cases are expected, and have occurred in China.
As at 29/1/20, the virus had been responsible for approximately 130 deaths. In all of these cases, the individual had suffered from an underlying condition, was elderly or frail, and therefore their immune system had a reduced ability to mount an appropriate response.
The main causes for concern relate to what is not known about the virus:
Thankfully, the 2019-nCoV appears to have a much lower fatality rate than previous coronavirus outbreaks such as SARS and MERS, or other deadly viral diseases such as Ebola. The current estimated fatality rate of the 2019-nCoV is 2.17%(1). Individuals who have died from this coronavirus are individuals who would have been at similar risk from a common seasonal influenza, which helps to contextualise the danger from this outbreak. However, it is possible that the virus could mutate and become more deadly.
For perspective, the mortality rate of SARS was 10%, MERS was 36%, whilst the Ebola virus killed half of all individuals infected.(2)
Current recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus are common-sense ones which are applicable to viruses such as influenza, and especially apply to people travelling or working in healthcare. The WHO recommendations(3) include:
The Federal Government has issued the following guidelines(4) on identifying if someone may have a coronavirus infection.
‘If the patient satisfies the epidemiological AND clinical criteria (listed below), they are classified as a suspected case:
Because of the way viruses mutate, new ones will always develop from time to time. Some of these will be relatively mild, and others will be more virulent. Apart from supportive care and avoiding infected persons, there is very little that can be done medically to treat a virus. So the best defence against any virus (or any other infection) is to make sure that your own immune system is strong enough to deal with it quickly and effectively. There are many aspects to your immune system, so if you would like to boost yours or to have it assessed, please book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)
Valued at $120, your Assessment will help to uncover:
All this will be fully explained to you, and you can ask as many questions as you like. That way we can be sure to give you all of the right information, understanding and advice you need. Terms and conditions: This is a free, no obligation offer.