What is Corona Virus ?
Corona Virus is an outbreak of disease that started in Wuhan one of the central Chinese cities.
It’s caused by a novel corona virus that means it’s brand-new. So new that actually it doesn’t have a name yet.
It’s from a family called the corona viruses.
Symptoms of Corona Virus
The symptoms of this illness are pretty mundane on the face of.
It it’s a Dry Courgh, Fever and then Breathing Problems.
It seems quite mild in lots of people and probably those people don’t end up in hospital at all.
We only know about the more severe cases which is where people have gone on to develop viral pneumonia and those people obviously end up in hospital and all the deaths have been among st those people.
Where this Corona Virus Came from?
This brand new corona virus came from animals and it’s believed that the source was actually a seafood market in Wuhan which also sells wild animals.
So far as far as we know all the cases have come out of Wuhan.
So some of these people are in places like Thailand and Japan but they haven’t picked it up there.
They actually got it in Wuhan and then they traveled.
In China where the most cases are it’s older people who are ending up in hospital with this.
They’re usually over 40 and the very youngest person diagnosed is about 13 or 14 years old.
So it doesn’t appear to be affecting small children and those who have died tend actually to have underlying conditions as they say.
They they’re frail.
They may have heart disease or cancer already and so they’re vulnerable.
Basically their immune systems are not very robust and they’re going to find it very hard to fight off a virus.
Treatment for Corona Virus
We’ve only just discovered that the new corona virus is actually transmitted from one person to another.
It was hoped at first actually that it just came from animals as all corona viruses do but now it looks as though it is actually passed from one human being to another so we’ve got people-to-people transmission
Because the markets been closed for some time and there are cases in people who’ve never been near it.
So there actually isn’t any treatment at the moment at all.
Because this is a virus antibiotics won’t work that they only work against bacteria not viruses.
So really you want to know antiviral treatment but none of the flu drugs that we’ve got we have got a couple of those will work on this.
A corona virus is different from a flu virus.
So there actually isn’t any treatment at the moment at all.
This one is scary because it is a brand new virus so we don’t know how it’s going to behave.
West Africa outbreak of Ebola was killing more than half of all those people who were infected SARS which was a novel corona virus just like this one back in 2002 did end up causing a global panic and that was largely because nobody had ever seen it before but also the death rate was at around 10%.
Here so far we’re talking about a death rate of 2% which is a lot less and it does look as if many of those people actually have had underlying health problems which would make it more likely that they would die.
They could equally have died of flu so you have to put it into that context.
Why this New Disease Keep Appearing in China Again n Again?
It was New Years Eve, 2019 when health officials in China admitted they had a problem.
A rapidly growing number of people were developing a dry cough and fever, before getting pneumonia.
And for some, it turned fatal.
Doctors have named the disease COVID-19 or “Conavirus Disease, 2019” indicating that a type of virus is causing the illness.
When they’d tried to trace its origin, they found a likely source:
This food market in Wuhan.
Out of the first 41 patients, 27 had been here.
It wasn’t conclusive evidence, but Chinese officials quickly shut down the market.
They had seen this happen before at a place just like this.
In 2002, a corona virus had emerged at a very similar market, in southern China. It eventually reached 29 countries and killed nearly 800 people.
Now, 18 years later, this corona virus is in at least 71 countries and has already killed over 3100 people.
So, what do these markets have to do with the corona virus outbreak… and why is it happening in China?
A lot of the viruses that make us sick, actually originate in animals.
Some of the viruses that cause the flu come from birds and pigs.
HIV/AIDS comes from chimpanzees.
The deadly Ebola virus likely originates in bats.
And in the case of the 2019 corona virus, there is some evidence it went from a bat to a pangolin before infecting a human.
While viruses are very good at jumping between species, it’s rare for a deadly one to make this journey all the way to humans.
That’s because it would need all these hosts to encounter each other at some point.
That’s where the Wuhan market comes in. It’s a wet-market.
A kind of place where live animals are slaughtered and sold for consumption.
Peter Li is a professor and expert on China’s animal trade. That’s exactly how a virus can jump from one animal to another. If that animal then comes in contact with or is consumed by a human, the virus could potentially infect them.
And if the virus then spreads to other humans, it causes an outbreak.
Wet-markets are scattered all over the world, but the ones in China are particularly well known because they offer a wide variety of animals, including wildlife.
This is a sample menu, reportedly from the market in Wuhan. These animals are from all over the world and each one has the potential to carry its own viruses to the market.
The reason all these animals are in the same market is because of a decision China’s government made decades ago.
Back in the 1970s, China was falling apart. Famine had killed more than 36 million people. And the communist regime, which controlled all food production, was failing to feed its more than 900 million people.
In 1978, on the verge of collapse, the regime gave up this control and allowed private farming.
While large companies increasingly dominated the production of popular foods like pork and poultry, some smaller farmers turned to catching and raising wild animals as a way to sustain themselves.
And since it started to feed and sustain people, the Chinese government backed it.
But then in 1988, the government made a decision that changed the shape of wildlife trade in China.
They enacted the Wildlife Protection Law which designated the animals as “resources owned by the state” and protected people engaged in the “utilization of wildlife resources”.
The law also “encouraged the domestication and breeding of wildlife.” With that, an industry was born.
Small local farms turned into industrial-sized operations.
For example, this bear farm started with just three, and eventually grew to more than 1,000 bears. Bigger populations meant greater chances that a sick animal could spread disease.
Farmers were also raising a wide variety of animals. Which meant more viruses on the farms.
Nonetheless, these animals were funneled into the wet-markets for profit.
While this legal wildlife farming industry started booming, it simultaneously provided cover for an illegal wildlife industry. Endangered animals like tigers, rhinoceroses, and pangolins, were trafficked into China.
By the early 2000s, these markets were teeming with wild animals when the inevitable happened.
In 2003, the SARS outbreak was traced to a wet-market here, in southern China.
Scientists found traces of the virus in farmed civet cats. Chinese officials quickly shut down the markets and banned wildlife farming. But a few months after the outbreak, the Chinese government declared 54 species of wildlife animals, including civet cats, legal to farm again.
By 2004, the wildlife-farming industry was worth an estimated $100 billion yuan. And it exerted significant influence over the Chinese government.
It’s because of this influence that the Chinese government has allowed these markets to grow over the years.
In 2016, for example, the government sanctioned the farming of some endangered species like tigers, and pangolins.
By 2018, the wildlife industry had grown to 148 billion yuan and had developed clever marketing tactics to keep the markets around.
Yet, these products became popular with an influential portion of China’s population:
It’s this minority that the Chinese government chose to favor over the safety of the rest of its population.
Soon after the corona virus outbreak, the Chinese government shut down thousands of wet-markets and temporarily banned wildlife trade again. Organizations around the world have been urging China to make the ban permanent.
Chinese social media, in particular, has been flooded with petitions to ban it for good this time. In response, China is reportedly amending the Wildlife Protection Law that encouraged wildlife farming decades ago.
But unless these actions lead to a permanent ban on wildlife farming, outbreaks like this one are bound to happen again.
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