Coronavirus, the Flu and Pandemics
The world waits to see if the new Coronavirus will become a terrifying deadly pandemic, killing millions as the Black Death did in the middle Ages, or will eventually be contained as other recent threats have, such as SARS in 2003.
It’s rare for a coronavirus to jump from the animals that commonly carry it, such as camels and bats, to humans. But in December 2019, a strain of coronavirus known as “2019-nCoV” did just that in Wuhan, China. It’s spreading at an ever-accelerating rate. The Chinese Government has shut down all travel in infected cities.
People entering the United States from China are currently being screened at airports. Only a handful of cases have been found in America. Those patients are in quarantine.
Air travel allows infected people to spread the virus worldwide, causing many to fear a pandemic. Well-known pandemics in history include the Black Death (bubonic plague), smallpox, tuberculosis, Spanish Flu, and more recently, HIV.
People worldwide have taken to wearing surgical or hospital masks to protect themselves from the airborne particles of 2019-nCoV. If not sealed and disinfected daily, they are ineffective. Of course, reaching an unwashed hand underneath to scratch an itch face spreads the virus.
As with the common flu that kills 50,000 - 80,000 Americans annually, the best protection is to wash your hands often and thoroughly.