The new coronavirus (previously referred to as “novel coronavirus” and now called COVID-19) that began to spread late last year (2019) first appeared in Wuhan, China. It is believed to have affected nearly 74,000 people so far worldwide, and as of 2/18/2020 has resulted in 1,875 deaths (13,170 have recovered after diagnosis/illness).
The virus appears to have first passed to humans from live animals sold for food in a large open-air market but has since developed the ability to spread person to person. Some cases have been confirmed outside China. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 467 patients in 42 states in the U.S. have been evaluated for the infection. At this writing, 14 have tested positive, and 392 have tested negative (60 pending). The other results are not yet known.
- Diamond Princess, cruise ship 542
- Singapore 81
- Japan 74
- Hong Kong 62
- Thailand 35
- South Korea 31
- Taiwan 22
- Malaysia 22
- Vietnam & Germany both have 16
- Australia 15
- The U.S. has 15
- France 12
- Macau 10
- UK 9
- United Arab Emirates 8
- Canada 7
- India, Philippines, Italy 3
- Russia, Spain each have 2
- Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Egypt each have 1.
There have been 2 deaths (Philippines, Hong Kong) reported outside of China.
Symptoms of the virus resemble those of the flu – fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some affected people have few to no symptoms while others become severely ill. According to the CDC, symptoms may appear in as few as two days or up to 14 days after exposure. The CDC is screening passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan to five major U.S. airports in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City (JFK) and San Francisco.
There is no vaccine against this new pathogen yet. To protect yourself, your best bet is to take the same preventive actions you would to avoid the flu:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
- Not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Staying home when you are sick
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throwing the tissue away
- Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces you touch frequently.
There’s no specific treatment for this new flu. However, if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has been in China recently and is sick, contact your physician immediately.
I recommend daily doses of vitamin C, garlic, echinacea and astragalus to help support your immune system.
Andrew Weil, M.D
“2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the U.S.” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 27, 2020, cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/
Coronavirus Information & Statistics, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/