Update on Coronavirus Outbreak and the Future of Pandemics

by | Mar 6, 2020 | COVID-19, Knowledge Hub

Updated March 6, 2020, 11:13 PM EST

In the past few weeks, the Coronavirus, Covid-19, has rapidly grown from its outbreak in China to nearly 85 countries and territories. As the disease continues to rapidly spread throughout the world, health officials have confirmed nearly 100,000 cases of the virus were diagnosed, with 225 of them being recently diagnosed in the US. Since the outbreak began in December 2019, there have been more than 3,280 deaths in at least 15 countries, with the number of fatalities constantly growing.

WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday even with health authorities across the globe being equipped to combat the outbreak, some countries are failing to give resources that does not match the threat level.

“This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops. Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans,” Tedros said. “This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government.”
The US now facing a nationwide pandemic scare, many local health agencies and hospitals are gearing up to fight the influx of cases that may arise. Though risk still remains low to the US compared to other countries, officials from both federal and state agencies are expanding coronavirus screenings and quarantines for recent foreign travelers and those who may have had contact with the virus. Despite efforts in the US, there have already been at least 12 confirmed deaths. The global fear of coronavirus continues to develop rapidly with travel restrictions, closings of schools, cancellation of public and religious gatherings, and limiting person-person contact in nearly every instance.

The coronavirus has had a dramatic effect on the global economy, with markets worldwide suffering losses. The Dow Jones closed down 970 points on Thursday, or 3.6%, marking its fifth-worst single-day point drop on record. The index was down nearly 1,148 points at its lowest point.

This outbreak continues to constantly develop, and more information is being learned as health officials in the US and around the world struggle to control the spread. While there is no known cure or vaccine yet, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued some guidelines to limit the spread and exposure to the virus: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Stay updated on official guidance from the CDC for more information on how to stay protected from the virus as it spreads. For the majority of people, the disease is not deadly; health officials have stated that symptoms are similar to an unusually severe seasonal flu. Even in a global pandemic, it’s expected to kill fewer people than the flu virus. Data so far implies that if you are diagnosed with coronavirus, you are likelier to have litte to no symptoms at all, than to require hospitalization. However, the coronavirus is believed to be far more dangerous for people over age 70 and those with underlying health issues such as diabetes.

Just like the coronavirus outbreak, they generally stem from lack of healthcare access, sanitation, and poor living condition which often leave people without resources to protect themselves. Epidemics are now eve further fueled by global travel which can take an isolated outbreak and quickly globalize it before people are event able to react. There are steps we can and must implement now to curb the effects of infectious disease upon our global population. Individuals can immediately help by taking steps such as getting vaccinated against diseases, seeking preventative healthcare, maintaining proper hygiene and keeping sanitary living conditions.

In light of this outbreak and its global impact, it highlights the weakness in our global health monitoring infrastructure and ability to respond to epidemics and pandemics. Many of the 85 countries with coronavirus cases are severely underequipped to respond to this disease let alone other basic health services and emergencies. While the numbers of coronavirus continue to rise, this is still far less deadly than many other major disease outbreaks. In the 14th century, the Bubonic Plague that swept through Europe killed nearly 25 million people. In modern times, killer infections such as Malaria claim over 1.5 million lives annually; it claims a life in Africa approximately every 30 seconds. HIV/AIDS claims over 3.5 million lives each year across that globe. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), approximately every minute, five new persons contract the disease. Still, infectious diseases are the leading cause across the globe for death, accounting for nearly 26% of all deaths annually across the globe, killing nearly 15 million people. There are many methods that countries could implement to monitor and share health alerts, which could greatly reduce the human cost of enduring disease outbreaks. Though, till countries take action on building health monitoring and reporting systems, this may continue to occur. With the coronavirus starting out as an epidemic and then turning into a global pandemic, countries have to change. This outbreak of coronavirus is a lesson to individuals and governments to address the need for public health education and measure that protect the people.

Rampant disease outbreaks and lack of access to care may become a norm in the coming years if we are unable to make changes. The uptick in global disease outbreaks has risen in the past 20 years with the world population growing to 7 billion. Our global population is roughly 10 years away from a population of 8.2 billion people and by 2050 we will reach 9.6 billion, according to the United Nations. As our global population expands and infectious diseases become more widespread, our capabilities to fight another coronavirus type outbreak or worse may become exponentially more difficult to combat.


Written By Pavan L.

Mar 6, 2020

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