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Coronavirus v SARS, a quick comparison

The Thaiger



Coronavirus v SARS, a quick comparison | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The new virus is spreading faster but appears much less deadly than SARS - Los Angeles Times
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SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, was a viral respiratory disease caused by the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Between November 2002 and July 2003, the eight month outbreak in southern China infected a total of 8,098 people, resulting in 774 deaths in 17 countries. Two years ago Chinese scientists traced SARS’ origins through the intermediary of civets (cat-like small mammals) to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in the Yunnan province in southern China, bordering Myanmar.

The majority of cases were in mainland China and Hong Kong and had a 9.6% fatality rate, according to the World Health Organisation. No cases of SARS have been reported anywhere in the world since 2004.

As of 2017, there was no cure or protective vaccine developed for SARS that has been shown to be either safe or effective in humans. The identification and development of vaccines and medicines to treat SARS patients remains a priority for governments and public health agencies around the world.

Comparing the novel coronavirus to the SARS outbreak, at the current rate of around 1,000 new cases a day, the coronavirus should have infected half of the number of the 8,096 people stricken with the SARS virus, by the middle of this week. SARS took around 8 months to reach that level of cases.

Scientists studying the new coronavirus say the infectiousness of the virus is not as strong as SARS, but have added that people are being infected at a faster rate.

David Heymann, the chairman of a World Health Organisation committee gathering data on the outbreak, says the virus appears to spread more easily from person to person than previously thought. The death rate of the latest coronavirus outbreak is far smaller than that seen during the SARS outbreak.

Like the SARS virus, the Wuhan coronavirus is also being traced to animals, including bats, believed to have been consumed by Wuhan locals from a popular fresh meat market.

Read the latest update in the coronavirus situation HERE.

Coronavirus v SARS, a quick comparison | News by The Thaiger

Coronavirus v SARS, a quick comparison | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus myths: Eight things you should probably already know

The Thaiger & The Nation



Coronavirus myths: Eight things you should probably already know | The Thaiger

Two months after the first cases came to the attention of the world, a lot more is known about the coronavirus, aka. Covid-19. Here’s a few well established myths and a few scientific facts.

MYTH: ‘Face masks don’t work’

Wearing a face mask is no guarantee that you won’t be infected. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets and larger airborne particles in the seconds after an infected patient has coughed or spluttered – the main transmission route of coronavirus. Some studies estimate a roughly five-times protection versus no barrier at all.

Within health care facilities, special respirators called “N95 respirators” have been shown to greatly reduce the spread of the virus among medical staff. People require training to properly fit N95 respirators around their noses, cheeks and chins to ensure that no air can sneak around the edges of the mask; and wearers must also learn to check the equipment for damage after each use. These are very different than the flimsy paper masks people walk around with.

If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a properly-worn mask limitss the chance of the disease being passed on. If you’re just walking around town and not in close contact with others, wearing a mask is unlikely to make any difference. The cheap, paper masks, often passed out for free by authorities are close to useless.

MYTH: The virus was made in a lab by humans

No evidence suggests that the virus is man-made. But the conspiracy theory has been a popular piece of fake news that keeps popping up in rubbish tabloid and social media. SARS-CoV-2 closely resembles two other coronaviruses that have triggered outbreaks in recent decades, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, and all three viruses seem to have originated in bats. Unless there is a gang of super-bats that have conspired to create Covid-19 in their secret cave-lab, there is absolutely no evidence that this has either occurred or would even been possible.

In short, the characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 fall in line with what we know about other naturally occurring coronaviruses that made the jump from animals to people.

MYTH: The virus is just a mutation of the common cold

Wrong. Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that includes many different diseases. All five of the known ‘flu’ coronaviruses have spiky projections on their surfaces and utilise so-called “spike proteins” to infect host cells. However, the four cold coronaviruses – named 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1 – all utilise humans as their primary hosts. SARS-CoV-2 shares about 90% of its genetic material with coronaviruses that infect bats, which suggests that the virus originated in bats and later hopped to humans.

Evidence suggests that the virus passed through an intermediate animal before infecting humans. Similarly, the SARS virus jumped from bats to civets (cat-like nocturnal mammals) on its way into people, whereas MERS infected camels before spreading to humans –

MYTH: ‘It is no worse or more dangerous than a normal flu’

Many individuals who get coronavirus will experience nothing worse than normal flu symptoms – sniffling, coughing, congestion and felling of illness. But the overall profile of the disease, including its mortality rate, could end up reflecting a more serious profile. This week, a World Health Organisation spokesperson, Bruce Aylward, who led an international mission to China to learn about the virus, noted that cases of the disease are now well exposed, it’s not just ‘the tip of the iceberg”.

If borne out by further testing, this could mean that current estimates of a roughly 1-2% fatality rate are accurate. This would show Covid-19 about 10 times more deadly than currently understood seasonal flus, which are estimated to kill between 300,000 and 660,000 around the world each year.

MYTH: ‘Covid-19 only kills the elderly’

Most people who are not elderly and do not have underlying health conditions will not become critically ill from Covid-19. That’s broadly true given the current cases studied in detail. But Covid-19 still has a higher chance of leading to serious respiratory symptoms, or potentially death, when compared to seasonal flu. There are other at-risk groups – health workers, who are more likely to be exposed to the virus.

The active precautions by communities around the world, to contain the situation in their immediate environment, will automatically be more likely to protect potential at-risk groups, like children. But, statistically, the majority of deaths have been in the elderly and in cases where there have been underlying causes. But there are children and previously healthy adults among the list of people who have succumbed to the virus.

MYTH: ‘You would have to be with an infected person for 10 minutes’

For flu, some hospital guidelines define exposure as being within 2 metres of an infected person who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or longer. However, it is possible to be infected with shorter interactions (even seconds) or by picking the virus up from contaminated surfaces (although this is thought to be a less common route of transmission).

MYTH: ‘A vaccine will be ready soon’

Scientists were quick to respond to this new strain of coronavirus, in the same family as the SERS and MERS viruses. Development os a vaccine, helped by the early discovery of the genetic sequence by Chinese researchers, is progressing much quicker than in the past. But a viable vaccine could be a long way off.

Several teams, separately around the globe, are now testing possible candidate vaccines in animal experiments. But the trials required before a commercial vaccine could be commercially rolled out are still at least a year away. Early human trials will also have to wait for possible side-effects and full evaluation.

MYTH: You can catch coronavirus eating at Chinese restaurants

Yes, some people actually believe this. By that logic, you’d also have to avoid Italian, Korean, Japanese and Iranian restaurants, given that those countries have also been facing an outbreak.

You have no more chance of getting infected by coronavirus, or anything else for that matter, at any Chinese restaurant, than being bitten by a giraffe in a telephone box.

I’ve had a dodgy Sweet & Sour Pork once and a Special Fried Rice that wasn’t very special, but I never caught coronavirus.

Early in the coronavirus news cycle there were many, many fake and invalid claims made about the virus. We listed a few HERE.

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South Korea virus cases skyrocket, approaching 3000

Greeley Pulitzer



South Korea virus cases skyrocket, approaching 3000 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: People wait in line to buy masks in Daegu, South Korea - AFP

The World Health Organization has raised its risk alert to its highest level, as South Korea confirmed 594 more coronavirus (COVID-19) cases today, its biggest single-day increase, bringing the national total to 2,931. Three additional deaths were also reported.

The Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention say that more than 90% of the new cases were in Daegu, the centre of the country’s outbreak, and the neighbouring province of North Gyeongsang. Three women Daegu died of the illness, bringing the national total to 16.

US health officials yesterday reported a third case of the virus transmitted to a person who did not travel overseas or come into contact with anyone known to be infected, indicating the disease is spreading in the country.

Authorities say the new case concerned a person living in the western state of Oregon. Two similar cases were reported in neighbouring California this week.

The virus has spread rapidly across the globe, causing stock markets to fall to their lowest levels since the 2008 global financial crisis, over fears that the disease could pummel the world economy. In the past 24 hours, it has affected nine new countries, from Azerbaijan to Mexico to New Zealand. It has now spread to every continent except Antarctica

2,924 people have died and more than 85,000 have been infected worldwide since it emerged, apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan (though recent reports dispute this) in December.

The vast majority of infections have been in China, but more cases are now being reported daily outside the country than within. South Korea, Italy and Iran are emerging as major hotspots.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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World’s largest travel fair, ITB, cancelled in Berlin

The Thaiger



World’s largest travel fair, ITB, cancelled in Berlin | The Thaiger

Organisers of the world’s biggest travel expo, the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin, have cancelled the event over coronavirus fears. 160,000 visitors were expected to attend this year’s event.

“We take our responsibility for the security and the health of our guests, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we have to look at the necessary cancellation of the ITB Berlin 2020.”

The travel fair was due to open next Wednesday but concerns grew after Germany recorded a jump in the number of infected residents this week. Of the 10,000 exhibitors expected at ITB from all over the world, 22 would have come from China and 25 others from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

With confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Europe’s biggest economy rising above 60, more than 1,000 people remain in quarantine. Schools and kindergartens were also shut in the district until Monday as the number of cases linked to the cluster reached 20.

With cases now detected across several further German states including Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Health Minister Jens Spahn said this week that Europe’s biggest country was “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic”.

The German governments ordering local authorities in the country’s 16 states to update their pandemic readiness plans. From Thursday authorities in German are also requiring travellers arriving from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy to provide contact details in case their movements had to be traced over possible infections.

The organisers of the fair, scheduled to start on March 4 for four days, originally expected about 160,000 visitors. Just a few days before the cancellation, the venue Messe Berlin and the organisers of the ITB had expressed their confidence that the fair would take place as planned. But over the last week requirements for exhibitors were tightened.

A delegation from the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), plus a number of representatives from properties and tour organisers in Thailand, were scheduled to attend and exhibit at this years ITB.

Meanwhile, the ITB in China, the fastest growing regional travel trade fair, planned for May, has already been cancelled by the organisers last week.

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