- A deadly coronavirus that originated in China has killed more than 490 people and infected more than 24,000.
- Here’s what to know about the virus in 30 seconds.
A deadly coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, in December is spreading across the globe.
Here’s the latest on the virus and how the world is trying to stop it.
The coronavirus family: The viruses in this large group typically affect the respiratory tract. This particular one — known as 2019-nCoV — had never been seen in humans before.
- Symptoms: Patients have reported symptoms similar to those associated with pneumonia, such as fever, coughing, chills, headache, difficulty breathing, and a sore throat.
- How it spreads: The virus can be transmitted between people through respiratory droplets such as saliva or mucus. It may be passed before a person shows symptoms.
- The coronavirus name: All viruses in the family have an external structure that features little crown-like spikes. In Latin, corōna means crown.
- Other coronaviruses cause SARS, MERS, and pneumonia.
Where it came from: Many researchers think the coronavirus jumped from animals to people at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. The market closed down on January 1.
- A group of scientists initially suggested that the virus might have hopped from bats to snakes, then to humans. But more recent studies suggest that it likely spread from bats to a mammal — potentially pigs or civets — before jumping to people. A direct hop from bats is also possible.
Cases so far: At least 24,607 cases have been confirmed internationally as of Tuesday evening. Of those, 24,391 are in mainland China.
- A recent peer-reviewed study estimated that the number of infected patients could be more than three times higher than the current count, however.
- Death count: At least 494 patients have died as of Tuesday. At least two deaths have occurred outside mainland China: a 44-year-old man in the Philippines and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.
- Countries affected: The virus has spread to at least 26 countries, including China.
- The US has recorded 11 cases across five states: six in California, two in Illinois, and one each in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington.
- Avoid contact with people who display cold or flu symptoms, such as coughing or runny noses.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, making sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Face masks aren’t necessary outside of China: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend face masks for the general US public at this time.
Efforts to contain the outbreak:
- Quarantines: Chinese authorities have quarantined 16 cities, including Wuhan, effectively placing more than 45 million people on lockdown.
- Travel restrictions: Countries including Australia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and the US have canceled or reduced flights to and from China.
- The US has temporarily barred foreign nationals who have been in China within the past 14 days from entering the country, with exceptions for immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents.
- Some countries have evacuated citizens from the Hubei province.