The rapid spread of the coronavirus shows no signs of stopping — as the number of new cases steadily climbs every day, with the virus continually showing up in unexpected places. According to the most recent figures reported by The New York Times, the coronavirus pathogen has now invaded 47 countries with two recent cases popping up in Germany and California with no clear and obvious source of transmission. As the virus continues to spread, countries worldwide are ratcheting up their containment methods and safety measures in order to slow the coronavirus down.
Because this situation is rapidly evolving, we’re going to refrain from reporting the number of confirmed cases and the death toll of the virus. Travel restrictions are in place, and some countries have implemented temporary lockdowns and quarantine’s on spaces they feel may put people at risk for contracting or spreading the virus. Here are all the drastic measures currently being taken to contain the spread and keep us out of a pandemic.
What Is Being Done Worldwide?
In China, CBS News reports that there are now 78,497 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country, and several cities throughout mainland China remain in strict lockdown. Though in a news conference on Thursday, the scientist leading the government-appointed expert panel on the outbreak, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, revealed that he believes the epidemic will be brought under control in China by the end of April. In South Korea — the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside of the pathogen’s country of origin — there are currently over 1,700 cases as of Thursday, according to The New York Times. As a result of the high number of cases, the U.S. State Department has updated its travel warning to level three (the same as China’s) indicating that Americans should reconsider all non-essential travel to the country, and the annual spring military training between South Korean and the United States has been postponed until further notice.
Japan is set to close all schools tomorrow through March and according to an announcement on Twitter, the popular AnimeJapan and Family Anime Festa 2020 expos — two popular Anime festivals that bring in travelers worldwide — will be canceled after the Japanese government’s decision to hold off on all large public social gatherings. There’s still no word on how this will affect the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The New York Times reports that in Tehran, the Iranian government has officially confirmed 245 cases of infection and 26 deaths. However, due to the fact that coronavirus’ believed mortality rate is at two percent, experts suggest Iran’s high death rate would suggest at least 1,100 cases, suggesting that the country is being less than forthcoming. Still, Tehran has canceled all Friday Prayers, a major tenement of the Islamic Republic, which is a huge move.
In Europe, Romania, Denmark, Estonia, and Norway have all reported their first cases, and two new cases have now been confirmed in Britain and are linked to activity in Italy and a quarantined hotel in Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain. Overall, the UK is handling the situation well, with the BBC reporting that only 15 confirmed cases currently exist in the country (including the two new ones) which have all been contracted from travel abroad, with no current deaths.
In Italy, there are currently 322 confirmed cases, the highest number outside of Asia, with a large majority of them coming from the Northern region of Lombardy. As a result, several cities and towns in the country’s northern areas are on lockdown and people are not permitted to leave or enter affected areas, public events have been suspended, and attractions such as museums have been closed, effectively putting 100,000 people under quarantine, according to CNN.
In Germany health officials have reacted aggressively to the newly confirmed case of unknown origin, closing down schools in North Rhine-Westphalia where the patient lives. They’ve also urged people who attended a recent carnival celebration over the weekend to stay home for the next 14 days. The New York Times reports that the man is in critical condition and unable to provide info about his recent travels, which has the country on high alert. The President of the German government’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency, Dr. Lothar H. Wieler, urged Germans not to panic and assured that Germany was in a better position than China to respond to the virus thanks to new information on the virus.
What Is Being Done At Home?
A recent case in Solano County, California has caused some alarm as the infected individual had not traveled to countries where the virus is circulating and had not been exposed to anyone known to be infected, which would make this the first case of “community spread” cornoavirus in the United States. This is concerning as that means additional unconfirmed cases may exist near the community. Doctors were aware of the possibility of coronavirus infection in the Solano county patient, but due to restrictive federal criteria by the CDC, only patients who had traveled to China recently or knew someone who was infected with the virus could be tested for coronavirus, according to The New York Times.
“That would suggest there are other undetected cases out there, and we have already started some low-grade transmission,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University, told The New York Times.
In response to the escalation of coronavirus panic, President Donald Trump announced in a press conference that he has appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the American effort to combat the virus and pointed some blame at the mainstream media and Democrats for overstating the threat in an effort to harm his presidential campaign adding, “Because of all we’ve done, the risk of the American people remains very low … we’re ready to adapt and ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads if it spreads.”
Since Vice President Pence’s appointment, many have been critical of Pence’s slow response to an HIV outbreak in the state of Indiana when he was the governor between 2013 and 2017. Many see the Vice President’s appointment as more alarming than assuring.
Trump also announced a $2.5 billion plan to combat the illness telling the press that “we’re going to spend whatever is appropriate.”
However, The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t as optimistic, with one NIH official saying a coronavirus vaccine was still at the least a year away,” according to NBC News.
CNN reports that Senator (and democratic Presidential candidate) Elizabeth Warren has just unveiled legislation in the Senate that would move funds being used for the construction of Trump’s border wall to combat the coronavirus outbreak. “The coronavirus outbreak poses serious health, diplomatic, and economic threats to the United States, and we must be prepared to confront it head-on,” Senator Warren said. “Rather than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a monument to hate and division, my bill will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this emergency.”
Currently, Republicans and Democrats in the house are seeking a bipartisan agreement on coronavirus funding and expect a vote to be made soon.