The novel coronavirus is a new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China, late last year. It can cause symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia.
As of Tuesday, more than 20,400 cases have been reported worldwide, most of them in mainland China. It has killed more than 420 people. Last week, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency over the outbreak.
In the United States, there have been 11 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, including the first person-to-person transmission in Chicago. Over the weekend, New York City identified three people who may have the virus, and whose samples are being tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There is still a lot that we don’t know about this new virus. We don’t know the origins of the virus, although Chinese authorities say it likely came from a seafood market in Wuhan. It appears to have come from an animal source.
Scientists are still working on a vaccine, which could take up to a year to manufacture and distribute.
It’s also unclear how exactly the novel coronavirus is spreading from person to person. It’s likely not as contagious as the measles, and may just be spread through droplets, such as when a person sneezes or coughs.
While there is still much to learn about the virus, New York City residents should remain calm and go about their everyday life. Practice good health habits, like washing your hands and sneezing into your sleeve.
If you’re feeling unwell and have traveled to China, especially the Hubei province in the last few weeks, see your medical professional immediately.
It’s important to be aware of the outbreak, but not be overcome by the hysteria that always ensues during a health emergency.
The best way to combat misinformation is to know as much as you can about the virus. Let’s start there.