Calm, Urgency Needed in Containing Coronavirus as it Spreads

Two students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, may have brought the pneumonia-like virus back from China in recent days. The CDC is monitoring the pair who recently traveled together to China.

by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / January 31, 2020
People wear face masks as they walk through a shopping mall in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. According to the Taiwan Centers of Disease Control Friday, the 10th case diagnosed with the new coronavirus has been confirmed in Taiwan. AP

(TNS) — Within just a few weeks of thousands of cases emerging halfway around the world, the threat of the dangerous coronavirus arrived on Pennsylvania’s border this week.

Two students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, may have brought the pneumonia-like virus back from China in recent days. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the pair who recently traveled together to China and may have contracted the illness there.

Since returning to southwest Ohio, one of the students has become ill with flu-like symptoms consistent with the virus that has claimed at least 100 lives in China and sickened nearly 6,000 people.

The Trump administration also has offered to help China deal with the virus while authorities in this country have announced anyone flying to the United States from Wuhan will be routed to one of five American airports, at which passengers will be screened when they land.

About half a dozen cases have been identified so far in the United States as the virus has begun to spread beyond its origin point in China.

Managing the potential global threat of the contagion will require both calm and urgency, as well as cooperation and transparency among the world’s health authorities. Everything we have learned from previous contagious disease outbreaks — including the similar SARS outbreak in 2003 — should have prepared us well to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and minimize its impact.

The challenge with this coronavirus is that infectious respiratory conditions like this can spread very easily among people. And in the 21st century, people move rapidly across great distances, making it possible for the virus to spread around the globe in just a short time.

This virus is new and officials believe it originally made the jump from animals to humans in a Wuhan meat market in December. Since then, the virus likely has mutated and now can be transmitted person to person.

Unlike the SARS outbreak, Chinese officials seem to be more transparent and communicative with other nations about the new coronavirus. This is essential, as is a willingness among the rest of the global community to offer whatever resources the Chinese can use to treat the illness and minimize its spread.

Individuals have a part to play in thwarting the spread of the coronavirus too. As with the flu and other potentially deadly contagious diseases, frequent hand washing is essential, and those who are feeling ill should stay at home. Also, in this special case, Americans who do not need to travel to China should avoid doing so until this potentially deadly virus is contained.

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