Why New Coronavirus (COVID-2019) Could Be Deadlier Pandemic Than SARS

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A local farmer tends to his crops when he crosses paths with one of China’s most adorableanimals, the masked palm civet.A weasel-like animal, the masked palm civet

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is unique to southeast Asia, and ubiquitousthroughout the land- much like the common raccoon in North America.Unknown to this farmer though, his close encounter with this particular civet has become a

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deadlyone.As the farmer breathes in the fresh fall air, a few stray particles work its way into hislungs.Hiding amongst those airborne particles are a few viruses, and while these viruses haveinfected civets for millenia,

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today all that is about to change.With perhaps the world’s worst case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, thisChinese farmer has just breathed in the only known mutation of what will become the SARSvirus

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that allows it to infect human beings.From this one stray breath, the world will be rocked by a modern pandemic that will killhundreds.The farmer will be dead in a matter of days, his corpse laid up in the same hospital bedhe had checked himself into after having extreme difficulties breathing.The virus within him however

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remained very much alive, even as doctors inspected hiscorpse for a cause of death and remained unable to identify one other than mysterious acuterespiratory illness.The virus would spread from person to person- some it had little to no effect on, and waswritten off as a

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mild flu or cold, others it would prove fatal.The Chinese government very quickly realized that something was extremely wrong in thesmall province outside of Hong Kong.Sending in government investigators, they quickly realized that they were dealing witha new, and very c

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ontagious disease- yet in a bid to prevent a panic, they refused toalert the World Health Organization and used their control over the state-run media toblock out any information to the public.The death toll however continued to rise, and slowly Canada’s Global Public Health IntelligenceNetwork, a global monitoring system that scours media for possible pandemic outbreaks in orderto stop them in their tracks, gathers evidence that something very wrong is happening onthe other side of the Chinese media blackout.The evidence is slow to be gathered though due to Chinese censorship, and finally onDecember 5th, the Canadians have given enough evidence to the World Health Organizationthat it

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submits a formal request for information to the Chinese government.At first the Chinese Communist Party sits silent, until a second request six days lateris filed.Canada’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network is meant to stop outbreak of diseasesbefore they become pandemics, and so far it has been very successful, yet there’s littleit could have done to stop what came next thanks to Chinese censorship.At the end of January, a fish seller suffering from acute respiratory problems

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checked himselfin to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou.Before dying, he becomes SARS’s first super-spreader, infecting an approximate 30 doctors and nurseswith the strange new disease.One of those infected would be a doctor named Liu Jianlun, who would go on to spread thedisease to Hong Kong.And once the disease reached Hong Kong, the worst consequence that the Chinese governmenthad fought so hard to prevent would come to pass: the mystery disease would go global.Doctor Jianlun would travel to Hong Kong to attend a family gathering.As one of the world’s most populated cities, Hong Kong offered no shortage of new hostsfor the deadly disease, and as Jianlun fell ill, he had already done his job as a super-spreader.As Jianlun lay dying in a Hong Kong hospital, the disease was already on its way to Vietnam,Canada, Taiwan, and beyond.Before being contained by the end of summer 2003, SARS would infect 8273 people aroundthe world, killing 775 of them.This gave the disease a mortality rate of 9.6 percent, making it one of the deadliestmodern epidemics.These numbers may not seem impressive, but that’s only because of the massive globalresponse to the epidemic, and the incredible efforts of physicians around the world todiscover the disease and quarantine it.In a way, SARS was a test of humanity’s ability to respond to a global pandemic, and had thedisease been more virulent, it’s likely we would have failed that test thanks to theChinese government’s censorship.The new coronavirus outbreak bears many similarities to SARS, and in fact the two diseases arein essence the same, as they both come from the same family of coronaviruses.Yet while mortality rates are still unknown due to a lack of sample size and us stillbeing in the opening days of a new pandemic, it is clear that the disease is deadly.Initially only the elderly and young were thought to be at risk, until in mid-Januarya perfectly healthy Chinese teenager died from the

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disease.In just the last few days alone as we write this script, the death toll has skyrocketedfrom 50 to 81, after initially casualties being limited to just a few a day.This means that the virus is infecting more people faster, and is spreading around theworld at an exponential rate.If the death toll continues to climb at such an incredible rate, the new Wuhan virus willbe an order of magnitude more lethal than SARS ever was.Humanity may be facing the first serious risk to global health since the Spanish Flu outbreakthat killed millions after the end of World War I.While SARS took months to spread from rural China to the rest of the world, the Wuhanvirus was first identified in the major city of Wuhan, and from there in less than a monthsince the outbreak began, there are already 40 cases confirmed in a dozen other

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countries,with five now here in the United States.We’re more than sure that as the virus continues to spread, by the time this script is liveand you’re watching this, all of those figures will have grown exponentially.While the Wuhan virus attacks the body in much the same way as SARS, it’s the ease ofinfection that is proving to make it far deadlier than SARS ever was.China is far more interconnected with the rest of the world than it was in 2002, withmore international airports and flights across the country.China’s rapid modernization has also greatly increased the number of international visitorsto the interior parts of the country, as opposed to just the major port cities as was the caseback in 2002.Basically, China is far more connected to the world than it ever

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was, and while it wasquick to alert the World Health Organization this time over its latest outbreak, therewas little that could be done before the disease was already on its way to the rest of theworld.To contain the outbreak, China has increased the number of quarantined cities from 13,to 17, a move that affects over 50 million Chinese citizens.The government has mobilized both the civilian medical community and its military in a massiveundertaking to fight the spread of the virus, and two brand new hospitals are being builtat a rapid pace in two of the worst affected zones, set to be completed in a matter ofweeks.In the US, cases have been confirmed in California, Arizona, Illinois, Washington state, and Texas.Dozens of cities across the nation are now screening patients who are showing

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symptomsthat are consistent with those of the Wuhan virus.As of this writing, two new patients in Virginia are believed to be infected.Europe has not been spared the virus, and recently two cases were confirmed in France.Just hours after the initial report, a third case was confirmed.Though the list continues to grow daily, confirmed Wuhan virus cases have come from Thailand,Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, Malaysia, France, the US, and Australia.What makes the Wuhan virus especially dangerous is the fact that it is contagious even duringits incubation period, unlike the SARS virus.This means that the virus can still infect people even before the carrier is showingany symptoms, something that makes identifying and quarantining the virus early on almostimpossible.As it takes up to two weeks for an infected carrier to start feeling sick, that personcould be spreading the disease around them for fourteen days

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before realizing that they’vebeen infected.This was impossible with SARS, which was not contagious during its incubation period, andmakes the Wuhan virus a far greater threat than SARS ever was.As the world moves to contain the disease, the American CDC has been working on a fieldtest that can diagnose the virus early on, and it hopes to be able to export the equipmentsoon to the rest of the world.