Deadly Virus Sweeps China, at Least Two Americans Impacted


Policemen in China wearing masks in Wuhan due to the Coronavirus outbreak. photo via Wikimedia Commons under creative commons license

Katie Buelt, Features Editor

One of the busiest travel weekends of the year in China has been shut down due to the rapid spread of a new virus throughout the country. According to the Washington Post, the illness has infected 830 people and killed as many as 26. Although the inner workings of the virus remain unclear, the World Health Organization continues to investigate. They currently say it is a coronavirus most likely related to SARS, an epidemic virus that also originated in Asia in 2003.

The breakout overlapped with Lunar New Year, celebrations for which are typically the highlight of the year. However, many cities severely effected by the coronavirus have called off the festivities. Beyond this, 35 million people, including the residents in Wuhan, the virus’s origin city, are under travel restrictions, and public transportation has become extremely limited. CNN reported that Shanghai Disneyland had temporarily shut down, and movie premieres, which are especially popular during Lunar New Year, have been cancelled. Although China is the inarguable epicenter of the illness, cases have recently been reported across south Asia, and two cases have been confirmed in the US. In both cases, the patients reported have few to no symptoms until after returning home; as a result, the CDC fears more foreign travelers may carry the virus.

The greatest concern for medical officials in China is the lack of space and resources. According to CBS news, overworked doctors are attempting to treat patients in hospitals unequipped for such a massive load. At least eight Wuhan hospitals have publicly asked for donations of medicine, protective gear and disinfectant.

Although most of those infected so far are elderly and have preexisting conditions, everyone in China is on high alert, especially due to the unpredictable and unknown nature of the illness. While the US faces no immediate risk at the moment, people are urged to avoid travel to China, particularly Wuhan. Meanwhile, health officials worldwide are working around the clock to study, examine, and, hopefully, eradicate this illness.