What to know about the Coronavirus

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Chinese health care workers in protective gear (The New York Times)

By: Jack Sorenson | Head Editor

February 7, 2020

Over the course of the past month, there has been a new disease sweeping the world. This disease is of course the Coronavirus. Beginning in Wuhan, in the Hubei Province of China, the Coronavirus is a novel strain, meaning that it has never been seen before by the scientific community.

Coronaviruses are a family of viral pathogens that can infect both human and animal victims. Believed to be originated from the open-air seafood markets of Wuhan, which is a large port city of over 11 million people. The virus is similar to other diseases such as the flu and the SARS virus, which created panic in China all the way back in 2003.

Reports of an unknown, pneumonia-like illness began popping up in Wuhan at the end of December, 2019. The virus was identified as Novel Coronavirus on January 7, 2020. On January 11, the first death was reported and Wuhan was placed under quarantine twelve days later.

Initially, the only spread of the virus was from animal to person. However, as time went on and more cases began to emerge with no connection to the seafood markets, the concern that human to human contagion heightened. As cases outside mainland China began to emerge, a slew of panic, misinformation, and general hysteria ensued.

“Coronavirus has been getting a lot of attention here, especially after they found it in Orange County,” San Clemente High School senior Clay Mosher said. “Anytime there’s a disease like this it gets people talking.”

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An emergency, 1000-bed Chinese hospital built in response to the virus (The Sun)

Outbreaks of recent memory, such as the previously mentioned SARS virus, Measles, Ebola, and Swine Flu, have played a role in stoking the fear that has surrounded the Coronavirus. Even in the US, where only 12 cases have been reported (as of February 5), surgical masks have experienced shortages due to widespread fear of the virus.

“It’s definitely scary, but I think people are overreacting,” SCHS senior Carson Trager said. “They just see what’s on the news and they don’t do their own research.”

Falsehoods and a lack of information play a big role in how any potential outbreak or pandemic. Being well informed and looking to reliable sources for information is the best way to prevent an overreaction. Although the Coronavirus should be taken seriously by everyone, there’s no need to inflate concern unnecessarily.

According to the CDC, preventing contact with the virus and following standard hygiene protocol is the best way to avoid contracting Coronavirus. Washing hands with warm water and soap, covering coughs and sneezes with an arm, and avoiding touching sensitive areas such as the mouth, eyes, and nose are all steps that can easily be taken to prevent any illness, not only Coronavirus.

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