Should I Worry About the New Coronavirus?

UPDATE (February 12): China just announced that the number of new coronavirus infections surged a staggering 14,840 cases and deaths climbed by 242.

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UPDATE (February 10): The death toll from the coronavirus now exceeds 1,000 people in what the New York Times referred to as “a grim landmark.”

With total infections now at 42,767 and 33 countries reporting cases, there is growing concern from organizations like the World Health Organization that we may only be seeing the “tip of the iceberg.”

Stay up-to-date on the progression of the outbreak HERE.

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The new coronavirus that emerged from the city of Wuhan in China has caught the world’s attention due to its rapid spread. With multiple cities in China effectively shut down in an effort to quarantine the virus and international airlines suspending flights to the country, the possibility of a global pandemic is now being discussed.

On February 2, the New York Times published an article titled “Wuhan Coronavirus Looks Increasingly Like a Pandemic, Experts Say.” As the article points out, a pandemic is “an ongoing epidemic on two or more continents.” With the virus currently spread across 28 countries on 4 continents as of January 31, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the medical community is following the progression of the virus very carefully.

What are the chances that the coronavirus could have a more significant impact in the United States? As of February 3, there have been 11 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., which is a tiny fraction of the 20,000 cases reported worldwide. However, experts are concerned that the virus is highly transmissible and there is a high degree of uncertainty about the death rate associated with infection. For these reasons, the W.H.O. declared a public health emergency and the U.S. has taken steps to limit travel to and from China.

While the situation is developing rapidly, the low number of cases in the U.S. and the rapid, global response to the situation appear to have a reasonable chance of containing the virus. However, given the equally rapid spread of the virus and the many unknowns involved, it appears wise to stay updated and informed on the most recent developments, and the CDC should be the best place to get that information.