Will the New Coronavirus Become a “Pandemic”?

by Madhvi Bansal

This infectious disease, originating in China and Wuhan, is affecting the global economy and Chinese politics.

There are two reasons people are so anxious about the new infectious disease. The first is that its initial spread is rapid. As dozens of patients grew to hundreds and hundreds grew to thousands, calculations began to walk on their own, resulting in a collapse of public health, social and economic upheaval, and a pandemic with fatalities (the speculation of a global epidemic) is born. The second reason is that the uncertainty is considerable.

The lack of data, and the contradictions between reports, can lead to scientists being unable to rule out the worst that could lead to even more disturbing information. The same is happening with the new coronavirus “2019-nCoV” that hit China. The number of patients reported was 282 on January 20 but has risen to almost 7,800 in just nine days. The number of cases reported outside mainland China also surged from 4 to 105 in the same period (total of 19 countries/regions worldwide). Questions arise about the essential nature of the disease, such as how it gets infected and what percentage of deaths it causes.

The uncertainty seemed to be justified by the prediction of Johns Hopkins’ last October simulation of an infectious disease pandemic that resulted in the loss of 65 million people. But this is not expected. However, the above question is right. The new coronavirus must be questioned as to whether it will become a global disease and how fatal it will be. A definitive answer will come weeks or months in the future, but public health authorities now have to plan. Perhaps most likely, the disease is already rooted in China and is at high risk of spreading worldwide. It can even become a prevalent infectious disease in the same season each year. It may prove that mortality is no different from seasonal flu, but it is still considered a severe threat. It will hurt the global economy in the short term and could affect Chinese politics, depending on how the epidemic is handled.

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The outbreak began in December. In China, human and animal contact is repeated, and mutated viruses that infect humans are likely to occur. A large number of people migrating to urban areas also make it easier for such infections to spread among humans. Presumably, the virus was derived from bats, spread through mammals such as musk cats and weasel badgers, and reached a damp market in Wuhan where wildlife was sold.

Symptoms resemble the flu but can cause pneumonia, which in some patients resulted in death. Approximately 20% of the reported cases are severe and have to be hospitalized. The death rate is about 2%. There is no vaccine yet, and no treatment with antiviral drugs has been established. The most significant uncertainty is how many patients are not recorded. In China, primary health care has not developed yet, and some patients have evaded consultations and have been turned away because they have visited hospitals but are busy.

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