Outbreak Alert 2020: Wuhan Virus Spreads from Human to Human

virus

Wuhan virus which originated from Wuhan, China has pneumonia-like symptoms including fever and difficulty breathing, has already spread to Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, as well as South Korea, Thailand, and Japan. 6 people have died todate. Infographic source: www.channelnewsasia.com

Last Monday, I got a very disturbing message from my daughter’s school – apparently they detected more students infected with Influenza and thus need to close the classroom for cleaning. There will be some shuffling of the rooms for other students.

Then I got an even more disturbing message from my wife – in the school’s Facebook page, there is a post informing that one of students had passed away recently and the school was giving their condolences to the family of the student. Now this also set some panic with parents connecting the death of the student with the spread of the influenza in the school.

Selangor is now recorded the highest cases of influenza in the country which makes it a more disturbing. Further with the story of a student passing away from the school is certainly making everyone here very edgy and restless.

Yesterday morning, there was even more depressing news – this time from China:-

China’s mysterious deadly coronavirus can spread from person to person, China’s top medical authority announced on Monday. Chinese and international authorities are scrambling to slow the spread of 2019-nCoV, a SARs-like illness known as the Wuhan virus because the infection originated in a seafood and meat market in the central Chinese metropolis.

Authorities initially believed the illness was largely being transmitted from animals to humans. Confirmation that it can move directly between people makes the threat even more severe, and increases the risk to other countries.

“Now we can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon,” said Zhong Nanshan, the scientist the Chinese government has appointed to lead the effort to battle the disease.

The World Health Organization said it will convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday to determine what kind of international response the outbreak requires. Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College London, told The New York Times that the danger posed by the virus depends on how “efficiently” it spreads from person to person.

If the transmission process is very effective, it will be able to spread a long way very quickly. If it is relatively hard for the virus to spread, it will be easier to contain. It’s unclear how many people have been infected through human transmission.

There are fears that the pace of infection will intensify as hundreds of millions of people travel within China and internationally for Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, this week.

(Source)

I hope the new virus is not from a failed lab experiment or as I said before, from some evil pharmaceutical company wanting to sell their vaccines to the whole world for huge profits. Will this make the fictional World War Z becoming a reality?

It is reported that there is no vaccine for the new virus yet and the authorities yet to identify the strain source (they only suspect for now) & the incubation time of the virus. More importantly is the question why this new virus appeared now?

WHO last week reported this:-

Declining private investment and lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics are undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Two new reports reveal a weak pipeline for antibiotic agents. The 60 products in development (50 antibiotics and 10 biologics) bring little benefit over existing treatments and very few target the most critical resistant bacteria (Gram-negative bacteria).

While pre-clinical candidates (those in early-stage testing) are more innovative, it will take years before they reach patients.

“Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “Numerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines.”

(Source)

Health authorities already had been on high alert to scan all visitors from China and to also isolate potential carriers to reduce the chance of further spread. The same measure had been taken up by the Malaysian health authorities as well:-

Malaysian health authorities are on high alert following the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said thermal scanners are used to screen travellers.

“Our preparedness and response team at all international entry points and health facilities particularly the KLIA (KL International Airport) health office are on high alert following the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak. The thermal scanners and the Health Quarantine Centre at KLIA terminal are prepared and on high surveillance”.

“The roles played by these various health units at the airport and also other international entry points are very important in safeguarding the country from various potential communicable diseases from high-risk areas,” he said in a statement on Monday (Jan 20).

(Source)

Speaking about thermal scanners and health checks at international entry points, one hopes that enforcement staffs are on the high alert and not sleeping on the job.

If one recalls, there were recent clips of health enforcement officers who were manning the thermal scanners were sleeping or busy on their phone. This brings the question whether travellers with infectious diseases have slipped through this checking and now actively infecting Malaysians.

The urgency for health readiness, enforcement and self-prepping is more prominent now than before.

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