Corona Catastrophe Sweeps the Globe

Fear of a contagious contingency grows as reports of the Coronavirus have become a public health emergency

Beatriz Ramirez, Reporter

Back in December, some reports started to emerge that a coronavirus that specialists had never seen before in humans had begun to spread among the population of Wuhan, a large city located in China.


Ever since then, the virus has spread to other countries, in and out of Asia, and this lead authorities to describe this as an “outbreak.” At the end of January, the World Health Organization declared this situation to be a public health emergency.


“COVID-19” is the scientific name for this outbreak and is a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that target and affect mammals’ respiratory systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that “according to the specific characteristics of coronaviruses, there are four main ‘ranks” to them. They’re called alpha, beta, delta, and gamma. Most of these only affect animals, but a few can also pass onto humans. Those that are transmissible to humans belong to only two of these genera: alpha and beta.”


This new coronavirus has been responsible for over 31,211 infections in China and 270 other infections across 24 different countries. In China, the virus has so far caused approximately over 637 deaths, including a death in the Philippines. 


Only two other coronaviruses have previously caused global outbreaks. One of the first of these seen was the SARS coronavirus, which was responsible for “severe acute respiratory syndrome” (SARS). It first started spreading back in 2002, also in China, and was a virus epidemic. It primarily affected the populations of China and Hong Kong, but it later died off in 2003.

The other was the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS coronavirus for short, which emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Since then, this virus has affected at least 2,494 people.


According to the World Health Organization, the reason that viruses like these originate is when humans become infected with a coronavirus. This usually happens by contact with an infected animal. Some of the most common carriers are bats, even though they don’t generally transmit coronaviruses directly to humans. Instead, the transmission might occur by an “intermediary” animal, which will usually, but not always, be a domestic one. It can be difficult to figure out the animal from which a coronavirus infection first starts spreading from.


In the case of “COVID-19,” initial reports from China linked this outbreak to a seafood market in central Wuhan. As a result, local authorities there closed the market down back in January. Later on, researchers suggested the market was unlikely to be the single cause of the coronavirus outbreak because some of the people infected with the virus hadn’t been associated with the market. Specialists still haven’t been able to determine the true source of the virus. WHO stated,“We don’t yet know what the specific source of COVID-19 was. Researchers in China are studying this but have not yet identified a source.”


The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. A WHO spokesperson stated, “Current information suggests that the virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms, as well as more severe disease. Most patients seem to have mild disease, and about 20% appear to progress to more severe disease, including pneumonia, respiratory failure, and, in some cases, death.” According to current specialists, COVID-19  seems to be more infectious than other coronaviruses but less likely to lead to death. Some estimates suggest that the death rate of the new coronavirus is in the range of 2–3%, but there are no official numbers in this regard, as it is hard to tell how the outbreak will develop.


WHO stated that a way people can avoid infection is by washing hands regularly, covering the mouth and nose when both coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking eggs and meats, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing. If you would like to get more insight, check the World Health Organization to learn more about the new coronavirus outbreak and for extensive guidelines about best practices when dealing with the virus.