Wuhan, China, is ground zero for the 2019 novel coronavirus, or nCov, that has begun to spread to other parts of the world. Countries around the globe, including the Philippines, are acting swiftly in the hopes of preventing the transmission of this communicable disease.
Various airports and air carriers have already suspended flights to and from Wuhan, while long-haul bus depots and train stations going to and through the area are installing thermal scanners to detect the possibly sick. These are just a few of the defensive measures that are being put in place to contain and halt the spread of the nCoV globally.
The question here is, are we really prepared? Even as we look to our government to be vigilant, we ourselves need to be aware and be informed. Here’s everything that you need to know about the 2019 novel coronavirus, symptoms, potential costs of hospitalization, and treatment.
What is a coronavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses belong to a large family of viruses that are known to cause respiratory illnesses such as common colds and pneumonia, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) in 2003 Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012.
These types of viruses are common among animals all over the world. Although very rarely to happen, its strains can evolve and possibly affect humans.
How many people have been affected by the nCoV?
As of January 30, 2020, a total of 80 deaths and more than 2,798 confirmed cases are linked to the new strain of coronavirus, the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV virus, which originated from Wuhan, China. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 461 of the 2,741 confirmed cases in China were severely ill.
How far has the virus come?
The first ever case of a person infected by the 2019 coronavirus was reported on Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. The virus has then spread to other countries across the globe including Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, the US, and the Philippines where so far three cases have been confirmed.
Currently, the following countries already have reported confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- United States of America
- United Arab Emirates
In the Philippines, the first case of coronavirus was confirmed on January 30. According to ABS-CBN News, the Chinese patient from Wuhan arrived in Manila from Hong Kong on January 21. Four days after, the unnamed patient underwent a checkup after experiencing mild coughing.
According to the Department of Health, the first confirmed coronavirus patient is confined in an “undisclosed government hospital.” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that while she tested positive for the deadly virus, “she is currently asymptomatic…which means she has no fever, and no other signs and symptoms suggesting illness at this point.”
What was the source of the virus?
News reports found the coronavirus was common among people who visited one of the local seafood and animal market in Wuhan. Because of this, it has been reported that the virus most likely hopped from an animal to a human being.
There are 200 types of coronaviruses that infect animals. Researches have sequenced the genes of the new strain the 2019-nCoV and found that it most likely originated from snakes.
Scientists have noted that there are two kinds of snakes originating from Southeastern China where the outbreak started, the Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) and many-branded krait (Bungarus multicinctus).
How was the virus transmitted from animal to human?
Out of the many viruses known to man, few are known to be zoonotic, which means that they have the capability to transfer from animals to humans. The coronavirus is one such example.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Virology has found that a change in one of the viral proteins of the virus 2019-nCoV allows it to recognize and bind to the receptors on the cells of the host and this could be what gave it the ability to transfer from species to species.
But despite all this, scientists are still skeptical as to how and whether the virus can be transferred from cold-blooded host which is the snake to warm-blooded hosts which are the humans making this all remain as a theory.
Is the virus transferrable between humans?
According to the CDC, the transfer of the virus has primarily been from an animal to a human. But there are four ways as to how the virus can transfer from one human being to another.
1. Airborne, from coughing or sneezing
2. Close personal contact, via touching or shaking of hands
3. Via a host, by touching an infected object or surface then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose before proper handwashing
4. Contamination (rarely), via fecal
What is the difference of the 2019-nCoV from MERS CoV and SARS CoV?
|Strain||Country where it originated||Source of virus||Mode of transmission||Severity|
|MERS||Saudi Arabia – 2012||Infected camels||Consuming its milk or meat||4/10 infected died|
|SARS||Guangdong, China – 2002||Infected bats and civets||Touching or eating the host||2/10 infected died|
|2019-nCoV||Wuhan, China – 2019||Infected snake||Touching or eating the host||Still under study|
According to CDC, all three strains of coronaviruses are known to be transmitted through close contact between humans.
MERS and SARS are both known to have caused critical symptoms to humans while the 2019-nCoV strain is still under study as it can cause both severe symptoms to others while only mild illness to some.
What are the symptoms of the 2019-nCoV?
Symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus may include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Other respiratory symptoms
How can we protect ourselves?
Reduce the risk of infection by:
- Proper washing of hands
- Avoid contact with sick animals
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid contact with people who are showing signs of cough and colds
- Drink enough water
- Cook meat properly
- Consult your physician once you experience severity in symptoms
- Have enough rest
- Use a humidifier to relieve cough or sore throat
As of this writing, there is still no known vaccine to this virus but researchers from the US National institutes of Health has confirmed that they are already in the early stages of developing one.
Also, according to NBC News, drug company Regeneron announced that they are also in the preliminary stages of developing a treatment on this new strain of coronavirus discovered.
With the outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus alarming the world, early discovery, diagnosis, treatment, and quarantine remains as the most effective method to bringing the outbreak under control.
2019 nCov: Potential cost of hospitalization
The early signs and symptoms of the new strain of coronavirus can be comparable to pneumonia. And because of that, we have researched as to what is the potential cost of hospitalization for novel coronavirus-affected individuals.
Here is the estimated cost for pneumonia treatment based on the 2017 research from Science Direct:
A. Moderate-risk pneumonia
- Hospitalization – from P36,000 to P113,000
- Post-discharge costs – from P1,500 to P9,000
B. High-risk pneumonia
- Hospitalization – from P105,000 to P250,000
- Additional cost for noninvasive ventilation use – from P102,000 to P245,000
- Post-discharge costs – from P1,800 to P11,000
If Hospital A.1 is – Total of 5 days average (private hospital)
If Hospital A.2 is – Total of 8 days average (private hospital with special discounts)
If Hospital B.1 is – Total of 6 days average (public hospital)
If Hospital B.2 is – Total of 10 days average (public hospital with special discounts)
*using Co-Amoxiclav and azithromycin as regimen
|Ward + expensive brand of medicine||Private room + expensive brand of medicine|
*subtotals without professional fee (PF)
|Cost||Hospital A||Hospital B|
|Estimated subtotal exclusive of PF||From P30,000 to P68,000||From P20,000 to P53,000|
|Professional fees subtotal||From P4,500 to P21,000||From P4,500 – 13,000|
|Consumption of other resources||From P3,000 to P5,000||From P2,250 to P3,600|
|Production losses||From P11,000 to P19,000||From P9,500 to P15,000|
|Total cost||From P48,000 to P113,000||From P36,000 to P83,000|