The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
New Coronavirus Can Spread Person-to-Person
The mysterious respiratory illness emerged last month in a fish market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, and officials thought it was mostly passed from animals to humans. However, Zhong Nanshan of China's National Health Commission said two people who lived hundreds of miles away caught the virus from a family member who had visited Wuhan.
"The current cases show there is definitely human-to-human transmission," Zhong told Chinese state-run CCTV, as CNN reported.
Officials on Tuesday also announced that the virus had killed six people, Reuters reported.
The illness can cause fever, cough, difficulty breathing and pneumonia, according to The Guardian. As of late Monday, it had sickened at least 291 people, Reuters reported, 258 in Wuhan. Fifteen health workers have also been infected, and it has now spread to various places in China, including Beijing and Shanghai.
The disease has also spread outside China: Two cases were diagnosed in Thailand, one in Japan, one in South Korea and one in Taiwan. The Philippines also reported a suspected case Tuesday.
There are fears the disease could spread further as millions are expected to travel throughout Asia Tuesday for the Lunar New Year.
"I believe Chinese tourists will bring the virus to many other countries in Asia in the coming days, due to their overseas travels during the Lunar New Year holiday," Chinese University of Hong Kong professor David Hui Shu-cheong told CNN Monday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has not imposed any travel or trade restrictions over the outbreak, according to Reuters, but that could change Wednesday, which is when the organization has called a meeting to discuss whether to declare an international health emergency.
Airports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco will begin screening passengers coming from Wuhan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday, according to CNN. Wuhan has installed thermometers at airports, train stations and other transit hubs to monitor the temperatures of people leaving the city, but it only began doing so Jan. 14, five weeks into the outbreak.
The new virus has raised the specter of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that killed almost 800 people in 2002 and 2003. Zhong, who also helped discover SARS, said the new disease was not as infectious, but was "climbing," according to CNN.
Researchers at Imperial College London also think the new virus has been severely underreported.
"The detection of three cases outside China is worrying," Imperial College London disease outbreak scientist Neil Ferguson told CNN before the number of foreign cases had risen. "We calculate, based on flight and population data, that there is only a 1 in 574 chance that a person infected in Wuhan would travel overseas before they sought medical care. This implies there might have been over 1,700 cases in Wuhan so far."
Officials are also concerned that they do not yet know the exact source of the disease, The Guardian explained. While the fish market it was originally linked to has been closed since Jan. 1, some of the people who fell sick never visited it.
"What concerns me is the source of infection. We have no idea. That's the most important thing. Without knowing that we don't know the harm, how hard it can be," Xi Chen, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health, told The Guardian.
However, Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor focusing on health security at City University of Hong Kong, urged against panic.
"At the moment, it is a bad flu. Yes, it is something to be concerned about and it is probably going to get worse in terms of infections and mortality, but again it's winter," he said. "It is likely to spread but we are still a long way off the levels of Sars or bird flu."
- 15 Impressive Herbs with Antiviral Activity - EcoWatch ›
- New Strain of Coronavirus Behind Lung Infections in China ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Charli Shield
At unsettling times like the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel like things are very much out of your control. Most routines have been thrown into disarray and the future, as far as the experts tell us, is far from certain.
By Elizabeth Henderson
Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:
By Julia Conley
A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.
By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner
Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.