Coronavirus is taking over


Olivia Frank, Reporter

      In December of 2019, a new coronavirus was isolated from three patients with pneumonia, connected to many acute respiratory illness cases from Wuhan, China. Genetic research revealed that it is closely related to SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The origin of the virus is not clear yet. So far, according to the report on 27 January 2020, among the laboratory-confirmed cases, 17% are classified as severe. In the same report, China noted 80 fatalities.

       In more current news the coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 800 people and infected more than 37,000 people internationally as of Sunday, February 9. On Saturday, World Health Organization officials said new cases have begun to subside in recent days, though the overall death toll and number of infected patients continues to rise. Two cruise ships were quarantined over the deadly coronavirus sweeping across China have met different fates.  One ship, the World Dream docked in Hong Kong, allowed passengers to disembark on Sunday after the ship’s crew members tested negative for the virus. The other ship, the Diamond Princess stationed near Tokyo, Japan, continues to report more cases of the virus onboard, with the number of infected passengers rising to 70 on Sunday. At least 14 of those passengers are American, NBC News reported.

      The ship was put on lockdown after an 80-year old man who disembarked in Hong Kong on January 25 tested positive for the virus. The vessel was quarantined upon arrival in Yokohama, Japan, on January 31. The quarantine is set to last for at least 14 days, during that time period carriers of the virus can be infectious. The virus is said to be able to spread before the carrier even notices any symptoms. Symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing, chills, headache, difficulty breathing, and a sore throat. 

      An Italian cruise ship, the Costa Smeralda, was put on lockdown on February 6 after a 54-year-old woman developed a fever and flu-like symptoms on board. The quarantine only lasted for about a day after the woman tested negative for the virus. The passengers were allowed to disembark. 

      Another ship was delayed in Bayonne, New Jersey after four passengers were sent to the hospital to be tested for the virus on February 7. Their tests all came back negative as well, and the ship was scheduled for a delayed departure a few days later. 

      On February 5, Hong Kong’s Health Department reported 33 crew members on board having developed “upper respiratory tract infection symptoms”. Three were sent to the hospital. All of the ship’s 1,800 crew members tested negative for the virus. A shuttle bus service was provided for passengers leaving the ship but the passengers were not tested for the virus and won’t be required to be quarantined once they return home. 

With the quick spread of the coronavirus, the government is very concerned that it could pose major economic risks. 

      As the death toll of the virus continues to climb everyone is urged to follow the basic illness prevention tips, like washing your hands, covering your mouth, and avoiding close contact with the ill. According to scientists, the virus started in animals before moving to people. The coronavirus may not seem like a big deal at the beginning but as the illness progresses, simple flu-like symptoms such as coughing and sneezing will turn into things that cause vital organs to shut down.