You've been hearing about it everywhere for the past few months: Co-workers in the breakroom, strangers on the bus, and every time you turn on the TV it seems as though a new, terrifying news story is breaking.
This time it's the coronavirus, the new respiratory virus that has taken a devastating toll on China in just a few short months. And while it's understandable to be concerned about something that is being called an "epidemic," it's important to actually look at the facts and see how they apply to you. That's why we've collected the 40 facts about the coronavirus you need to know.
From death tolls to illness prevention to busting myths that just spread misinformation, the following facts about the coronavirus will give you a new perspective on the virus that everyone seems to be talking about but few people seem to actually know anything about.
Still need more information? Here's an uplifting story about how Bill and Melinda Gates are helping to find a cure.
1. The coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) explained that the first three people infected with the virus, which is also referred to as 2019-nCoV, were being treated for pneumonia.
2. There are now more than 40,000 confirmed cases around the world.While the majority of those infected are located in China, the virus has now been discovered in at least 28 countries, including the U.S., Canada, and France.
3. As of February 10th, there have been 910 total deaths caused by the coronavirus.According to the Johns Hopkins Live Dashboard, all but one of these deaths occurred in China. So far, the only patient to die of the virus outside of china was a 44-year-old man in the Philippines after he returned home from a trip to Wuhan.
4. The symptoms are similar to those of the flu.As listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever, cough, exhaustion, muscle soreness, and shortness of breath.
5. It can take longer than you'd expect for symptoms to emerge.While those infected can exhibit little to no symptoms whatsoever, if symptoms do occur, they may appear "in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure," says the CDC.
6. Some people are more at risk than others.The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says that "young children, elderly people and those with underlying conditions (e.g. hypertension, heart disorders, diabetes, liver disorders, and respiratory disease)" have a higher risk of severe sickness or death after contracting the virus.
7. You have to be within close proximity to an infected person to catch it.Just how close? The CDC claims that transmission can happen when someone comes within 6 feet of an infected individual. "Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes."
8. Coronavirus and SARS have similar characteristics.The SARS virus first emerged in 2002 and infected more than 8,000 people across 17 different countries over an 8-month period. Comparatively, the coronavirus has already killed more people than the SARS virus, which resulted in 774 fatalities.
9. It might be a lot harder to travel to and from China for a while.As of February 2nd, the US Department of State has issued a Level 4 travel advisory to China. "Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of travel restrictions with little or no advance notice. Most commercial air carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China."
10. Most of the border crossings between Hong Kong and mainland China are closed.Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, announced on February 3rd that 10 out of 13 border crossings with mainland China have been closed until further notice. This happened after more than 2,500 hospital workers went on strike to call for the borders to be closed in an effort to protect Hong Kong citizens.
11. Something else has been spreading along with the virus: Racism.While fear, misinformation, and growing panic continue to spread, many Asians have reported experiencing blatant racism in countries across the globe. Xenophobic memes have started popping up on social media, and “No Chinese" signs have even been seen in store windows.
12. A doctor in China died after trying to warn others about the virus.Dr. Li Wenliang was an ophthalmologist who died on February 7th after contracting the coronavirus. Before his death, he had studied the virus and tried to create public awareness of the seriousness of the situation. He was later reprimanded by local authorities for making what they referred to as "false statements" and was hospitalized just days later. Dr. Wenliang was only 34 years old.
13. A newborn was just infected with the virus.BBC.com recently reported that a baby born in Wuhan, China on February 2nd has become the youngest person to become infected with the coronavirus. The baby's mother had already tested positive for the virus, and it still remains to be seen whether it was transmitted after she gave birth or while the child was still in the womb.
14. So far, children have been rarely infected.Even with the news of an infant contracting the virus, it seems that kids have mostly been spared by the more devastating symptoms. Live Science reports that the median age for those infect ranges from 49 and 56. "We don't fully understand the phenomenon — it may be because of differences in the immune responses of children compared to adults," said Dr. Andrew Pavia, the chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah.
15. The US declared a public health emergency on January 31st, 2020.Alex Azar, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, released a statement at the end of January declaring a state of emergency for the entire United States. “While this virus poses a serious public health threat, the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low," said Azar. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all Americans, and this public health emergency declaration is the latest in the series of steps the Trump Administration has taken to protect our country."
16. A cruise ship has been under a quarantine due to a coronavirus outbreak.A total of 135 people have been diagnosed with the deadly respiratory virus while aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which arrived at the Yokohama terminal south of Tokyo in early February. The ship is currently under a 14-day quarantine that will end on February 19th, though that could be extended for any passengers who came in close contact with those infected.
17. Companies are pulling out of The Mobile World Congress conference amid coronavirus fears.The MWC, which is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, is scheduled for February 24th-27th. However, due to the 2019-nCoV outbreak, large companies such as LG, Sony, and Amazon have already pulled out of the conference.
18. Several sports events have been impacted by the outbreak.The World Athletics Indoor Championships have been postponed, as have several other athletic-based events including the AFC Asian Champions League matches and a four-team women’s Olympic soccer qualifying tournament, according to the World Economic Forum.
19. Nearly 100 people died during a 24-hour period.On February 9th, 97 people died after contracting the virus, which was a new daily record.
20. Donald Trump has repeatedly made claims that the virus will subside when the seasons change.Officials, however, claim that it's too early to make these types of predictions. The dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas said that "it would be reckless to assume that things will quiet down in spring and summer. We don't really understand the basis of seasonality, and of course we know we absolutely nothing about this particular virus."
21. Experts are worried that the virus could get even worse.Ian Lipkin, an infectious disease expert, recently told CNBC that “we don’t know much about it, and therefore we’re all concerned to make certain it doesn’t evolve into something even worse. We don’t know much about its transmissibility. We don’t necessarily have accurate diagnostic tests. And we don’t really know where the outbreak is going to go."
22. The virus has now been spread to people who did not visit China.
There’ve been some concerning instances of onward #2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to 🇨🇳. The de… https://t.co/ePygyM0e6z— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus)1581286119.0
23. Hand dryers do nothing to help stop 2019-nCoV.In an effort to dispel some of the myths and false information revolving around the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a series of "Myth Busters". One of these rumors is that the heat from hand dryers somehow kills the virus, which is false.
24. You can't contract the virus from the mail."Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages," said the WHO.
25. No, you should not cover your entire body in alcohol or chlorine.And yes, the WHO actually had to make a statement telling people not to do this. "Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations."
26. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat those infected with the coronavirus."The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment," says the WHO. "However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible."
27. It was never linked to 'bat soup'.According to Foreign Policy, the rumors about the coronavirus somehow being linked to a dish referred to as 'bat soup' are completely false. "As news of the Wuhan virus spread online, one video became emblematic of its claimed origin: It showed a young Chinese woman, supposedly in Wuhan, biting into a virtually whole bat as she held the creature up with chopsticks. There was just one problem. The video wasn’t set in Wuhan at all, where bat isn’t a delicacy. It wasn’t even from China. Instead, it showed Wang Mengyun, the host of an online travel show, eating a dish in Palau, a Pacific island nation."
28. You can't catch coronavirus from your pet.The WHO advises concerned pet-owners that catching the virus from your pet is not likely at this time. "There is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or have spread 2019-nCoV."
29. Influenza and pneumonia vaccines do not provide protection."It's simply too new, and work on a vaccine specifically for the new virus is still in process," says the World Economic Forum. "At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos last month, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations announced a new partnership to develop vaccines for 2019-nCoV as quickly as possible."
30. Eating garlic does not help protect you from 2019-nCoV.Another popular rumor that's been making its way across social media is that consuming large quantities of garlic will help your body combat the virus. "Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus," says WHO.
31. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI) is working to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Today we announced funding for three programmes to develop vaccines against the novel #coronavirus, nCoV-2019 💉 We… https://t.co/q4QrVGBXRN— CEPI (@CEPI)1579801928.0