The inability to have more accurate estimates of the number of infections has also made it difficult to understand the real contagiousness of the coronavirus and its severity. We know little and nothing about incubation times. Here are the WHO recommendations
It is a new coronavirus , never seen before the outbreak of this outbreak in Wuhan between mid-December. We know how it is done because the virus was isolated on January 7 and its genetic sequence was released on January 12, the day after the news of the first death.
It was renamed 2019-nCoV and from 20 January we know that it can be transmitted from man to man. It causes symptoms very similar to a normal flu with cold, fever, breathing difficulties, etc. To date, this is the only reliable information we have about the Chinese virus. The rest, in fact, are only hypotheses, partial and confused information.
The origin of this outbreak is uncertain . Many of the initial cases reported an exposure to Wuhan’s South China Seafood City market , the city fish market where other live animals were still exposed. It may have originated in bats or snakes.
Theories are based on examining the virus genome sequence and two studies indicate the likely role of bats in the origin of the virus. However, there may have been an “intermediate host” and a study from the Journal of Medical Virology identifies snakes as the possible culprit. But no studies yet explain how the virus may have been transmitted from animals to humans.
There is very little information on the number of infections . Authorities report 571 confirmed cases in 25 regions and 393 others are suspect cases. But many question these estimates. Given the population of Wuhan, which has about 11 million inhabitants, it is considered difficult to believe that the cases of infection are only a few hundred. A British study speaks of at least 1,700 cases.
On the other hand, 17 people died, all in the province of Hubei , in central China, and between the ages of 48 and 89. It appears that most of the deceased patients had previous health problems such as cirrhosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
After the first case reported outside China, precisely on January 11 in Thailand , which has now reached three infections, a single case has been reported in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, as well as in the United States , Japan and the Republic of Korea. .
The impossibility of having more accurate estimates of the number of infections has also made it difficult to understand the real contagiousness of the coronavirus and its severity. We know little and nothing about the duration of the contagiousness and the incubation times. Uncertainty, the latter, which raised some fears about the possible arrival of 2019-nCoV also in our country.
Wuhan has now been placed in quarantine and travel has been suspended. However, the last flight from Wuhan landed at Fiumicino airport on Thursday morning . The passengers underwent health checks and all measures were taken to make their movements traceable. But not knowing the incubation period, airport tests are deemed insufficient to ensure that passengers and crew have not been infected.
Based on currently available information, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared the state of “international public health emergency “. Therefore it does not recommend any restrictions on travel or commercial routes. But he issued the following general recommendations:
Avoid close contact with subjects suffering from acute respiratory infections;
Wash your hands frequently, especially after contact with sick people or their environment;
Avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals;
People with symptoms of acute airway infection should keep their distance;
Cover coughs or sneezes with disposable handkerchiefs or clothes;
Strengthen standard infection prevention and control measures, especially in emergency rooms and emergency medicine departments.
In Italy, the Minister of Health gathered the task force to coordinate the interventions in our country made up of the Directorate General for Prevention, the other competent directorates, the Carabinieri of the NAS, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the Istituto Nazionale per le “Lazzaro Spallanzani” Infectious Diseases in Rome, by Usmaf (Maritime, Air and Border Health Offices), the Italian Medicines Agency, Agenas and the Diplomatic Advisor.
Hopefully in the next few days to understand more about 2019-nCoV. There are few known coronavirus precedents, Sars, which originated in China and which in 2003 affected several thousand people, spreading thanks to the air travel in different regions of the world and causing about 800 victims. Then there is the MERS-CoV, which appeared in the Middle East regions in 2012 and which currently circulates in 27 countries around the world, although 80 percent of cases are concentrated in Saudi Arabia. It is estimated to have caused around 2,500 cases of infection with over 800 deaths.