Fear of the virus is spreading worldwide as other countries such as the US, Japan, Singapore etc. confirm cases of victims as well
The outbreak of the coronavirus has already claimed the life of 41people while nearly 1,400 others fell ill because of it in mainland China.
Fear of the virus is spreading worldwide as other countries such as the US, Japan, Singapore etc. confirm cases of victims as well.
The Chinese government is on high alert as hundreds of millions of people travel over the Lunar New Year holiday in China, or around the Asian region.
What is the virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
However, this virus is what we call a novel coronavirus as this is a member of the coronavirus family that hasn't ever been encountered before, with common symptoms consisting of runny nose, cough, sore throat and possibly headaches.
People with weak immune systems such as the elderly and the young are at severe risk of the virus from being nothing to life threatening respiratory tract diseases.
Officials have already confirmed that the virus is prone to transmission from human to human, advising people to wear masks, wash hands and refrain from any physical contact with anyone with symptoms such as cold or fever.
It has also been confirmed that the virus was passed from animals to humans, along with the fact that it takes longer to develop than SARS and MERS.
Also, that patients have displayed symptoms such as a mild cough for a week followed by shortness of breath.
Where is this happening?
The breakout has been reported to emerge from Wuhan, the largest city in Central China, in Hubei province.
Authorities are saying that since the coronavirus spread from animals to human, they've come to link it to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale markets as the ground zero where wild animals are sold, closing it down since January 1.
Further adding that scientist have come to the conclusion that the virus could have jumped from bats to snakes, that are sold in the market.
So far it is a mystery how the virus is adapting to both cold and warm blooded hosts, as it has claimed the lives of nine in the province.
Officials in an attempt to contain this outbreak have postponed the New Year celebration in Wuhan, banning tour agencies from moving people around, and taking further measures such as using thermal monitors and screening public spaces.
The virus has spread to almost all of China's administrative regions this week since the first reported case in December in Hubei province. It has forced the authorities to close down highways out of the city and temporarily close the airport and railway stations of Wuhan on Thursday, along with public transportation which is suspended indefinitely.
The coronavirus task forces have been given full power to treat this outbreak with as much tenacity as of a plague or cholera, and contain it as swiftly as possible.
Authorities in China have placed permanent travel restrictions on an unprecedented 32 million citizens in 11 cities in the Hubei region, the country's most impacted city.
Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is under complete quarantine, with all public transportation inside and out of town locked. More extreme travel restrictions extend to other towns across the province. Ezhou, Huanggang, Chibi, Xiantao, Zhijiang, Qianjiang, Huangshi, Xianning, Yichang, and Suizhou are among them.
A global threat: Confirmed cases around the world
With fears of an epidemic, countries around the globe have increased airport security with health screening, along with enforcing new quarantine formulas to slow the virus down as much as possible.
Countries such the US, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam have reported the spread of the virus.
Both the US and the UK, along with many other countries have implemented travel advisories for Wuhan.
International flights from Wuhan
Wuhan is a significant transportation centre. Not only is the town a center for China's high-speed rail network, it also has flights from Tianhe International Airport to more than 60 international destinations.
When confirmed cases ramped up across the country on Thursday, government officials declared the partial closing of the airport and railway stations in Wuhan.
During the busy Lunar New Year holiday period, China allowed travelers commuting to and from Wuhan to modify their travel plans by exempting them from service fees for refunds for all modes of transport.
Both train tickets in and out of Wuhan were also cancelled, while flights to the region were canceled by several international airlines.
How does this compare to the SARS virus?
While scientists have confirmed that the coronavirus isn't as contagious as SARS, yet the estimation of victims around the globe is grossly underestimated with the number close to 400 as of January 18, based on the spread of the virus in a relatively short period to other cities and countries.
David Heymann, the president of a World Health Organization commission that collects data on the disease, said on Thursday that the virus spreads more quickly from person to person than previously thought.
SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that ripped through Asia in 2002 and 2003.
Even though the rate at which people are dying is noticeably less than that during the SARS outbreak, we cannot yet deem the coronavirus outbreak as nothing without learning more about it.