COVID-19’s Spread

How COVID-19 paralyzed the world in several months.

Millions across the world have been infected with the coronavirus, with the United States leading the world in the number of cases and deaths. By now, it is common knowledge that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) came out of Wuhan, a large city with a population of about 11 million people in the Hubei province of China (1). Though a great number of conspiracy theories regarding how the virus originated exist, experts believe it originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the virus transferred from bats to humans (2). 

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated.

The virus first affected humans in late 2019 and was reported to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) on December 31 (3). Throughout January, the number of countries with the virus steadily increased. Just less than two weeks after the virus was reported to the W.H.O., China reported its first death from COVID-19 (4). Less than two weeks later, on January 20, the United States reported its first virus case, a man in his thirties in Washington State who had recently traveled to Wuhan (5). In just a few weeks, the virus had spread to multiple countries, demonstrating its rapid transmission rate.

Aside from China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States were among the first countries to be affected by the virus. Officials enacted city-wide lockdowns as the global number of cases began to rise at an alarming rate, and by the end of January, the W.H.O. declared the outbreak a global health emergency (6). World leaders finally showed signs of taking the virus more seriously as it began to affect their own countries and as the W.H.O. took more drastic measures. For example, the United States restricted travel from China just one day after the virus was declared a global health emergency (7).

In early February, the Philippines confirmed the first of soon to be hundreds of thousands of deaths linked to the virus outside of China. Cruise ships were put on lockdown because guests aboard the cruise ships tested positive, putting everyone on board at a higher risk of the virus (8). Perhaps the most well-known example of a cruise ship being put on lockdown was the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined for nearly a month off of the coast of Japan in February (9). Of the 712 passengers and crew members onboard who tested positive for COVID-19, 12 died. The United States government evacuated many of the passengers onboard the Diamond Princess and placed them in an additional two-week quarantine at Travis Air Force Base in California (10). Along with the Diamond Princess, many other cruise ships increased the spread of COVID-19. This is because not all ships followed proper hygiene procedures, which increased transmission of the virus across groups of people who returned to different countries, further spreading the disease.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship in quarantine.

Mid-February marked the beginning of an outbreak in Europe, as the number of cases there increased at a rapid rate. France reported Europe’s first virus-related death on February 14 (11). Later that month, South Korea, Italy, and Iran became focal points of the virus as they faced some of the world’s largest outbreaks of COVID-19 at the time (12). While Italy and Iran struggled to control COVID-19 in their respective countries at first, South Korea was able to ‘flatten their curve,’ or slow the spread of the virus, though their number of cases still rose (13). Italy endured so many cases that they put their country on lockdown with no chance of opening anytime soon (14). As of April 10, Italy had over 140,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 18,000 fatalities. Iran has also seemed to flatten its curve and has only reported 68,000 cases with 4,000 deaths. 

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States skyrocketed in March, causing the economy to plummet. Stay-at-home advisories swept the nation, and the government ordered social distancing, staying at least six feet apart from other people. Sports leagues and other entertainment businesses are shut. Business closings have resulted in a recession that has become so bad that the government had to pass a two trillion dollar economic relief package to offer financial support to many Americans. 

Meanwhile, hospital workers have been lacking vital protective gear, and, with overwhelmed ICUs, doctors are having to choose whom to treat and whom to desert. This causes many unnecessary deaths, and increases fear surrounding the virus, as hospitalized patients don’t know if they will be able to be treated or not. Some of the worst hit areas include New York and San Francisco, and as the country’s total number of cases nears half a million, almost 20,000 have died, as of April 10. Besides the United States, only Spain, France, Italy, and Germany have surpassed mainland China in total number of cases of the novel coronavirus. As of April 10, the total number of reported COVID-19 cases across the globe is over 1.6 million, and the total number of reported deaths linked to it is over 102,000. Worst of all, one of the top experts on COVID-19, Doctor Anthony Fauci, says that coronavirus could resurge in the fall (15).

– Rahdin Salehian

References

  1. Wikipedia. (2020, April 25). Wuhan. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuhan.
  2. Woodward, A. (2020, February 26). Both the new coronavirus and SARS outbreaks likely started in Chinese ‘wet markets.’ Historic photos show what the markets looked like. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/wuhan-coronavirus-chinese-wet-market-photos-2020-1.
  3. Taylor, D. (2020, April 21). A Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-timeline.html
  4. Qin, A. and Hernández, J. (2020, January 21). China Reports First Death From New Virus. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/world/asia/china-virus-wuhan-death.html
  5. Rabin, R. (2020, January 21). First Patient With Wuhan Coronavirus Is Identified in the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/21/health/cdc-coronavirus.html.
  6. Joseph, A. (2020, January 30). WHO declares coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. Retrieved from https://www.statnews.com/2020/01/30/who-declares-coronavirus-outbreak-a-global-health-emergency/
  7. Corkery, M. and Karni, A. (2020, January 31). Trump Administration Restricts Entry Into U.S. From China. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/business/china-travel-coronavirus.html
  8. Wikipedia. (2020, April 25). 2020 coronavirus pandemic on cruise ships. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_on_cruise_ships#Diamond_Princess
  9. Wikipedia. (2020, April 21). 2020 coronavirus pandemic on Diamond Princess. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_on_Diamond_Princess
  10. McFall-Johnsen, M. (2020, March 4). More than 100 Americans who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have finally gone home. 2 shared photos and details from their quarantine on a military base. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/americans-on-diamond-princess-cruise-photos-of-coronavirus-quarantine-2020-3
  11. Axelrod, T. (2020, February 15). France reports first coronavirus death outside Asia. Retrieved from https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/483236-france-reports-first-coronavirus-death-outside-asia.
  12. Singhvi, A., McCann, A., Wu, J., and Migliozzi, B. (2020, March 12). How the World’s Largest Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Growing. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps-italy-iran-korea.html.
  13. Fisher, M. and Sang-Hun C. (2020, March 23). How South Korea Flattened the Curve. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/world/asia/coronavirus-south-korea-flatten-curve.html.
  14. Di Donato, V., Reynolds, E., and Picheta, R. (2020, March 13). All of Italy is in lockdown as coronavirus cases rise. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/09/europe/coronavirus-italy-lockdown-intl/index.html
  15. Behrmann, S. (2020, April 22). ‘Convinced’: Fauci says there will be coronavirus in the fall after Trump says ‘it may not come back’ Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/22/coronavirus-dr-anthony-fauci-says-i-am-convinced-second-wave/3009131001/

Images

  1. https://www.ship-technology.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2020/02/800px-Diamond_Princess_in_Hobart.jpg 
  2. https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/B0KB2eg0ZuuxIXYDMl1pWQ–~A/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/https://media.zenfs.com/en-US/alvinology.com/29c657f4e453851d33b237e84f51608f

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