Yesterday at 7:48 pm
It took 17 deaths, the multiplication by hundreds of infections and the confirmation of positive diagnoses of infection with an unprecedented coronavirus in various parts of the world for the Chinese health authorities to determine the "closure" of the city of Wuhan.
The trains were parked and the planes were nailed to the ground. Because, for now, most infections seem to have started from there, from that huge central metropolis of China, capital of Hubei province and transport distribution platform. Two days before the celebrations of the Lunar New Year, which usually add up to the enormity of three billion trips. And almost a month after the first suspicions that the world would have to prepare for a new atypical pneumonia, such as that in 2002 (SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome), the extent of which was hidden by Beijing and which would eventually kill 774 people in Worldwide.
Named 2019-nCoV, the virus already located in travelers returning to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the USA, was yesterday on the table of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee, which however, he preferred to postpone the decision – or not – to declare an international public health emergency for another day. By division of the members gathered there (including Chinese) and by the need for more information, according to the director-general of the UN agency, Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus.
The truth is that the signs of concern are becoming undisguised. Even because the numbers are updated brutally every hour, the WHO itself confirms the transmission between humans (even if it is not known whether by direct contact or by air) and citizens of Wuhan report cases of sick or deceased not included in official statistics.
Health authorities in several countries – including Europeans where direct flights from Hubei province land – have implemented tight controls at airports, which may be little in a world where travel is often staged in order to reduce costs. That is, the control should be done at the exit of Wuhan.
The origin of the 2019-nCoV outbreak is placed, for now, in the Huanan market, closed on January 1, after concluding that all patients with symptoms of pneumonia have passed through there. In it live animals were sold, among which the coronaviruses normally spread.
The suspicion points to the fruit bat (as was already the case with Sars in 2002-3), which, according to Chinese scientists cited by the Hong Kong newspaper "South China Morning Post", harbor the virus that gives rise to the coronavirus . The Chinese Disease Control Center yesterday admitted the link of 2019-nCoV with wild animals sold on the market and warned of the great capacity for adaptation and mutation of the virus.
What is the international emergency
The WHO's declaration of an international public health emergency implies the adoption of preventive measures worldwide. To date, it has been declared for the H1N1 flu (2009) and Zika (2016), Ebola (2014 to 2016 and 2018) and polio (2014) epidemics. Among the measures are restrictions on trade and travel.
Interview with Raquel Guiomar, virologist at INSA
How can the fact that the origin of the virus is not exactly known affect the fight against the disease?
The source of the infection is believed to be associated with the Wuhan market, to which the first reported cases were linked. There is also a strong suspicion that there may be an animal that is the vehicle for transmitting the infection to humans. Investigations are being carried out in the field so that the first source can be quickly identified, which could be an advantage for controlling the transmission of the disease.
The first fatalities were over 60 years old. Could it mean that the virus needs preconditions to be more virulent?
Older people with comorbidities are at greater risk for the most severe forms of the disease, not only for this agent, but for other viral agents. It is still premature to make this association due to scarcity of information.
Foreign health officials have chosen to assess the temperature of passengers from Wuhan. With contagions between people, is it enough? Europe evaluates the risk as low …
This risk assessment was made available on January 9, but may be revised at any time to include more recent and detailed information. There are only direct air connections from Wuhan to three European cities (London, Paris and Rome).
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