A new respiratory coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is rapidly spreading throughout China, where authorities have imposed an unprecedented travel lockdown in 16 cities with a combined population of over 50 million. Cases have also been reported in several other countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Thailand, and the United States. As of Monday night (27 January 2020), there were nearly 4,500 confirmed cases and 107 deaths. Experts believe it likely that there are thousands more infected who have gone undetected and that it’s possible the virus is even being spread by people who do not have any symptoms. The results of a study of 41 patients hospitalized for 2019-CoV infection highlight the need for urgent action: A third required ICU-level care and 15% died.
The most effective way to stop 2019-nCoV’s spread is to limit transmission
Efforts are underway to find a vaccine, but even the most optimistic timelines suggest several months of scientific development before human clinical trials can begin. With no vaccine or treatment, the most effective way to stop 2019-nCoV’s spread is to limit transmission by identifying infected individuals as quickly as possible and isolating them for treatment before they can infect others. This strategy worked against the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003. Global and national health authorities are implementing the approaches used during the SARS crisis, but, other measures also need to be taken because 2019-nCov is already widespread in China. [read more]