First UK cases identified today - two Chinese tourists staying in a hotel in York, now being treated in an isolation unit in Newcastle.
Best wishes to all affected in any way by the epidemic, especially of course our Chinese members.
Lots of info here - primarily from a UK perspective but much of it relevant worldwide and does include global distribution maps (sorry, I'm not on for long tonight so can't extract individual maps articles etc):
Looks like Russia had its first two confirmed cases today, just like UK. Putting stuff together from BBC news reports as well as the Guardian:
It looks as if the mortality rate is about 2%, mainly those already in poor health (flu is about 1% overall, though it does vary according to the strain). And there is far more flu than Wuhan coronavirus around.
Transmission is probably mainly by by droplets in the air or on surfaces, and it may be less easily transmitted than flu or colds - but neither has been confirmed yet.
And since the virus has only just jumped from its animal host to humans it may still be rapidly adapting - so what is true now won't necessarily stay true in future.
The bad news is that it seems very unlikely it can be contained from spreading globally. The good news is that, like colds and flu, it may well die down of its own accord as the Northern winter ends. And (from a BBC news report which I can't find an online reference to) the Chinese authorities have shared the genetic code of the virus with Western labs, one of which (in the US?) has already designed a vaccine and got it into pilot production for testing - so it maybe ready for use in about three months if all goes well.
Virus now spreading rapidly in South Korea, Iran and Italy, quarantined passengers from the cruise ship in Yokohama are going down with it after being released from quarantine (including one UK citizen death). Confirmed UK cases currently 19 though so far all seem to have been infected abroad - though if a GP (doctor) from Surrey is confirmed as the 20th case that will probably change. Either way it must be only a matter of time before it goes wild here, and across the world.
I think it is not as serious as the media want to make us see. It is true that certain people are in greater danger than others, especially child or older people, but that also happens with the common flu.
I don't know ... we will have to wait to see how this ends, maybe it will be forgotten as Ebola, 2009 "A" flu, or bird flu
Actually for reasons unknown kids are rarely affected. COVID-19 causes lung damage and replicates in the body much faster than the common cold. It is also much more infections. At least that's what I've read in various news sites.
Coronavirus Has Northern Italy's Hospitals on the Brink of Collapse
Covid-19 essential guide: can it be caught on public transport, how is it different from the flu, and how sick will I get?
Coronavirus facts: is there a cure and what is the mortality rate of the virus?
Covid-19 essential guide: can it be caught on public transport, how is it different from the flu, and how sick will I get?
What do we know about the virus now?
The Covid-19 virus is a member of the coronavirus family that made the jump from animals to humans late last year. Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city of Wuhan. Unusually for a virus that has made the jump from one species to another, it appears to transmit effectively in humans – current estimates show that without strong containment measures the average person who catches Covid-19 will pass it on to two others. The virus also appears to have a higher mortality rate than common illnesses such as seasonal flu. The combination of coronavirus’s ability to spread and cause serious illness has prompted many countries, including the UK, to introduce or plan extensive public health measures aimed at containing and limiting the impact of the epidemic. How can I stop myself and others from getting infected? Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and do this often, including when you get home or into work. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your face. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow (not your hand) and put used tissues straight in the bin. Avoid close contact with people who are showing possible symptoms. Follow NHS guidance on self-isolation and travel.
The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.
The UN agency advises people to:
Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.
Despite a surge in sales of face masks in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, experts are divided over whether they can prevent transmission and infection. There is some evidence to suggest that masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions, given the large number of times people touch their faces. The consensus appears to be that wearing a mask can limit – but not eliminate – the risks, provided it is used correctly.
The coronavirus outbreak hit amid flu season in the northern hemisphere and even doctors can struggle to distinguish between the two – the overlap in symptoms probably contributed to slow detection of community infections in some countries, including Italy.
Typical flu symptoms, which normally come on quickly, include a high fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, shivers, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and, more occasionally, vomiting and diarrhoea. Doctors are still working to understand the full scope of symptoms and severity for Covid-19, but early studies of patients taken to hospital found nearly all of them developed a fever and dry cough, and many had fatigue and muscle aches. Pneumonia (lung infection) is common in coronavirus patients, even outside the most severe cases, and this can lead to breathing difficulties. A runny nose and sore throat are far less common, reported by just 5% of patients. The only real confirmation of having Covid-19 is taking a test though. What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you have symptoms or think you might have been exposed to the virus when travelling or through other contacts, call the NHS 111 service or visit the online service, or contact the equivalent service in your country. Do not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital. If I get coronavirus, how sick will I get?
A large study in China found that about 80% of confirmed cases had fairly mild symptoms (defined as no significant infection in the lungs). About 15% had severe symptoms that caused significant shortness of breath, low blood oxygen or other lung problems, and fewer than 5% of cases were critical, featuring respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ problems. However, it is possible that a larger number of very mild cases are going under the radar, and so this breakdown in severity could change over time as wider screening takes place. Older people and those with respiratory problems, heart disease or diabetes are at greater risk. What is the mortality rate of the new coronavirus?
It is probably about or a bit less than 1%. Much higher figures have been flying about, but the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, is one of those who believes it will prove to be 1% or lower. The World Health Organization’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, talked of 3.4%, but his figure was calculated by dividing the number of deaths by the number of officially confirmed cases. We know there are many more mild cases that do not get to hospital and are not being counted, which would bring the mortality rate significantly down.
Deaths are highest in the elderly, with very low rates among younger people, although medical staff who treat patients and get exposed to a lot of virus are thought to be more at risk. But even among the over-80s, 90% will recover. Can you get infected on public transport?
Most infections happen in families, where people live at close quarters. You need to be within one to two metres of somebody to be infected by viral-loaded water droplets from their coughs or when they are speaking. That is less likely on public transport. However, it would be possible to pick up the virus on your hands from a surface that somebody with the infection had touched. The virus can linger for 48 hours or even possibly 72 hours on a hard surface, such as the hand rail in the tube – though less time on a soft surface. That is why the advice is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face, to prevent the virus getting into your nose, mouth or eyes. Is there a cure for Covid-19?
Not at the moment, but drugs that are known to work against some viruses are being trialled in China, where there are thousands of patients, and new trials are starting in the US and other countries. Large numbers are needed to find out whether they work in a few people or a lot of people or nobody at all. The most hopeful are Kaletra, which is a combination of two anti-HIV drugs, and remdesivir, which was tried but failed in Ebola patients in west Africa in 2013 and 2016. Some Chinese doctors are also trying chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, which is off-patent, therefore cheap and highly available, and would be very useful in low-income countries. The first results are expected in mid-March and should indicate if the drugs will at least help those who are most severely ill. A miracle cure is not expected. When will we get a vaccine?
Efforts to develop an effective vaccine for Covid-19 have been quick compared with historical epidemics, such as Ebola. A number of teams are already testing vaccine candidates in animals and preparing to carry out small trials in people. The US company, Moderna Therapeutics, is already recruiting and hopes to enrol 45 volunteers between 18 and 55 and launch the trial by the end of April. Phase one trials like this look at whether the vaccine triggers an immune response and whether the given dose causes adverse effects and could be completed quite quickly. However, the subsequent phases, which will involve thousands of volunteers and will look more closely at efficacy, will take longer and obtaining a commercially available vaccine within a year would be extremely quick. The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said he did not think a working vaccine to protect people from the coronavirus would be produced in time for the current outbreak, but that a timeframe of a year or 18 months “was not unreasonable to assume”.
Kids rarely seem to get it at all, and adults under 60ish rarely get seriously ill unless they already have serious health problems - but there are exceptions and have been deaths of healthy young adults, perhaps mainly medics who got a very high does of virus when they were first infected. It's mainly older people who get seriously ill and sometimes die.
The overall death rate is probably around 1% (whereas for current strains of flu it is around 0.1%), with the higher apparent rates in some countries being due to under-identification of mild cases, and to an extent due to older average ages in some countries and areas. But that's not certain - on the other hand some victims take up to a month from development of symptoms to death, so it's going to be a while before we can really work out an accurate death rate.
It's not at all clear yet what proportion of the population is susceptible to infection - in Hubei Province it seems to be rapidly dying down with only I think about 5% of the population having been infected, and perhaps something similar is starting to happen in Codogna where the Italian outbreak first took off. But is that just because the extreme control measures have stopped it infecting most of those who re susceptible - yet? We just don't now.
And the virus seems to be pretty stable genetically so the likelihood of it suddenly mutating into a much more infectious and/or lethal form is probably low - but we can never exclude the possibility.
That's my reading of the current state of knowledge, based on various Guardian articles and BBC News items.
Thank you for this beautiful well-written update DD. Just for the record I think the Gurdian have a much better coverage than the BBC on a variety of topics including the coronavirus so I follow the latest developments there but check BBC News from time to time to mostly out of habit I guess.
Still there are dozens of reports mostly coming from the USA of 30-40 yo strong athletic dudes with no chronic health problems who needed intensive care treatment due to the coronavirus so I don't think it makes any sense ot claim only people above a certain age get seriously ill.