Novel coronavirus spreads throughout world


Photo courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

On Jan. 30, President Donald Trump received a briefing about the novel coronavirus, suggesting the global spread of this illness.

Tanya Hudy, Writer

Novel coronavirus, also called 2019-nCoV, has infected more than 30,000 and caused 490 deaths worldwide; 11 of those cases are in the US. The virus is said to have started in Wuhan, China, but it has since been declared a global health crisis by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The coronavirus is a virus that infects the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. The virus is most commonly spread from an infected person through the diffusion of particles in the air or through physical contact. In order for doctors to diagnosis the virus, they must order blood and respiratory system lab tests. Although the virus has not been identified in El Paso, the WHO advises people to wash their hands often, avoid any close contact with infected individuals, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and stay home during illness.

“I think it’s important that people are being cautious with themselves, especially with something as dangerous as the coronavirus,” senior Isaac Torres said. “We don’t know what this thing is and we don’t know exactly how to stop it, so with all these people studying, I think it’s great.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of 2019-nCoV may include fever cough, and shortness of breath. Based on information about the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a similar illness, signs of sickness can surface anywhere between two days and two weeks after exposure.

Researchers are still not sure as to what exactly causes the coronavirus, but in the early 2000s there was an outbreak of a strain of the virus which was transmitted first from animals to humans, then from humans to humans. Now, the novel coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout many countries. Many of the infected patients in the US had all recently visited Wuhan, China, and the CDC says that 249 people in the states are currently being investigated for the virus. Everyone in Wuhan is on lockdown until they can contain the virus.

Several cases have been showing up on college campuses around the US. Texas A&M University has confirmed that they have suspicions about a student who may have contracted the coronavirus. Another case has been suspected in Baylor University. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) have released statements saying they are following protocols from the CDC. NMSU added a page to their health website, which provides the latest information and answers to questions people may have about the virus.

“I think they are doing what the protocol is when there is an outbreak of something as contagious [as 2019-nCoV] and that it’s great that they are doing that,” nurse Carmen Vela said.

For now, public health officials and the public are trying to do everything in their power to bring the spread of this illness to a halt before it becomes a true pandemic.