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Ask Dr. Nandi: Coronavirus cases surge in China as virus spreads

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 17:56:47-05

(WXYZ) — Cases of the new deadly coronavirus have surged over the weekend, rising from 62 to over 200 people infected. And a third death has been reported.

There is still a lot to learn about this new coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV. But we believe it’s not something that spreads easily.

That’s because of two reasons. One, Chinese authorities say that there hasn’t been any spread to the healthcare workers taking care of those infected. And two, there hasn’t been an ongoing spread of the virus in the community.

Now that’s not to say that it can’t happen, it’s still possible that there could be some limited person-to-person spread. But the rise in numbers is more likely because officials are actively looking for new cases and testing those who are ill.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, and 7 types are known to infect and sicken people. Usually, it’s mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses. You’re likely quite familiar with one of them - the common cold. But some coronaviruses can cause serious health issues, like pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome - even death.

The danger with coronaviruses is that they’re zoonotic. Which means that they can be transmitted between animals and humans. It’s rare but we’ve seen this before with SARS and MERS. Now it’s not for certain that this new coronavirus is zoonotic, but it’s possible since many of those infected visited a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan City, China.

Here in the US, the CDC is closely monitoring the outbreak. And they’re screening flight passengers on flights from Wuhan China at three airports.

At this moment, the health risk here is considered to be low. But when it comes to germs, it’s always good to protect yourself and loved ones. So I’d like to remind you all to please wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes, and cover any coughs and sneezes.