A deadly virus that was first detected in Wuhan, China has now spread across the globe, reaching at least three cities within the United States.
This deadly new strain of the Coronavirus begins with respiratory trouble, much like SARS and some of the other near-pandemics that have bloomed from the Far East, and ends with patients succumbing to pneumonia-like symptoms.
In China, the illness is spreading so rapidly that authorities have been forced to quarantine over 40 million people.
China’s lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding areas to contain the coronavirus represents the first large-scale quarantine in modern times.
The effectiveness of attempting to cordon off the epicenter of the disease — an area of roughly 40 million people — will probably be scrutinized far into the future.
“The containment of a city hasn’t been done in the history of international public health policy,” said Shigeru Omi, who headed the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. “It’s a balance between respecting freedom of movement of people, and also prevention of further disease and public interest. It’s not a simple sort of thing; it’s very complex.”
The news comes as a third American has been diagnosed with the virus, this time in Chicago.
A Chicago woman who returned from caring for her sick father in China earlier this month has been diagnosed with the respiratory coronavirus that has sickened more than 1,280 in China and killed at least 41, officials said Friday.
The woman, who is in her 60s, remained hospitalized Friday, but her condition had been stabilized and she was “clinically doing well,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago health commissioner, during a news call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The woman traveled to Wuhan, China, in late December and on Jan. 13 returned to Chicago, Arwady said.
Doctors have yet to determine the source of the virus, but the latest speculation is that the disease was transmitted to humans from snakes at one of Wuhan’s wildlife markets.