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Coronavirus cases pass 11,000, US explains emergency: everything we know



  View by the artist of a man wearing a surgeon's mask.

While the corona virus is spreading inside and outside of China, the World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency.


Robert Rodriguez / CNET

A new virus, named 2019-nCoV and first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, has claimed more than 250 lives and infected more than 11,800 Chinese citizens, according to national health from the country Commission.

The virus was first reported to the World Health Organization on December 31. Scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses including the deadly SARS and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome.

On January 30, a special WHO committee declared a public health emergency of international importance, stating "the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems." Human-to-human transfer has been confirmed outside of China, including in the US, leading authorities around the world are starting to restrict travel and enforce quarantines to protect themselves against the spread.

On Friday, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared a public health emergency stating the nation's intention to protect and respond to the outbreak while noting that & # 39; the risk for Americans remains low & # 39 ;. As part of the reaction, foreign nationals who have been to China are being denied entry to the US. From Sunday, US citizens who have visited Hubei, where the outbreak began, will be quarantined for up to 14 days, while those traveling through other regions in China will be followed and will have to be quarantined themselves.

The situation is evolving rapidly. We have collected everything we know about the new virus, the future for researchers and some steps you can take to reduce your risk.

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What is a corona virus?

Coronaviruses belong to a family known as Coronaviridae and under an electron microscope they look like pointed rings. They are named after these spikes, which form a halo or crown around their viral envelope.

Coronaviruses contain a strand of RNA in the envelope and cannot propagate as a virus without getting into living cells and hijacking their machines. The spikes on the viral envelope help coronaviruses bind to cells, giving them a way to come in, like opening the door with C4. Once inside, they turn the cell into a virus factory, using the molecular conveyor to produce more viruses, which are then sent from the cell. The virus progeny infects other cells and the cycle starts again. Typically, these types of viruses are found in animals ranging from cattle and pets to animals in the wild, such as bats. When they make the leap to humans, they can cause fever, respiratory diseases and inflammation in the lungs. In people who are immunocompromised, such as the elderly or people with HIV / AIDS, such viruses can cause serious respiratory diseases, leading to pneumonia and even death.

Extremely pathogenic coronaviruses were behind SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome) outbreaks in the last two decades. These viruses were easily transmitted from person to person. SARS, which emerged in the early 2000s, infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in nearly 800 deaths. MERS, which appeared in early 2010, infected nearly 2,500 people and led to more than 850 deaths.

Where does the virus come from?

The virus appears to have originated in Wuhan, a Chinese city about 650 miles south of Beijing with a population of more than 11 million people. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market sells fish, as well as an abundance of meat from other animals, including bats and snakes. After infections were linked to the market, the Chinese authorities closed it on January 1.

Markets are involved in the origin and spread of viral diseases in previous epidemics, including SARS and MERS. A large majority of people who have so far confirmed that the new corona virus has come down have been at the Huanan Seafood marketplace in recent weeks. The market seems to be an integral part of the puzzle, but researchers continue to test and investigate the original cause.

Prestigious medical journal The Lancet published a comprehensive summary of the clinical characteristics of patients infected with the disease that extends to December 1, 2019. The very first identified patient was not exposed to the market, suggesting it The virus may have originated elsewhere and been transported to the market where it could thrive.

An early report, published in the Journal of Medical Virology on January 22, suggested that snakes were the most likely animal reservoir for wildlife before 2019-nCoV, but the work was solidly refuted by two further studies just one day later , on Jan 23.


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