But It’s Rapidly Spreading Around the Globe
The coronavirus, now officially known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), has not yet reached Ocean County, or even New Jersey.
“The World Health Organization declared this outbreak an international global health emergency, but the threat is very low at this point for us here in Ocean County and the rest of the country,” said Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator Daniel Regenye in a press release issued Jan. 31.
The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued on Monday, showed that New Jersey still didn’t have a lab-confirmed 2019-nCoV case. But the numbers are going up fairly rapidly in the United States and shooting through the roof in China, the country where 2019-nCoV first made its appearance.
When the OCHD made its statement on Friday, it reported six confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and more than 8,000 across the world. By Monday, when the CDC updated its numbers, as it will every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, there had been 11 confirmed cases in five states – Washington, California, Arizona, Illinois and Massachusetts. That same day the World Health Organization released its 14th Novel Coronavirus situation report (SITREP), which showed there had been 17,391 confirmed cases globally in over 20 countries.
There had been just 282 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV worldwide reported in WHO’s first SITREP, which had been posted on Jan. 21, and those cases were limited to China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. By Monday confirmed cases could be found as well in Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Canada, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
WHO’s death count as of Monday was 362, all in China excepting one 2019-nCoV death in the Philippines. Back on Jan. 21 only six deaths were attributed to the Novel Coronavirus.
Clearly the 2019-nCoV virus is spreading far and wide and very fast. The virus is also causing numerous non-health problems throughout much of the globe.
Several airlines have canceled flights to and from China. Numerous countries including the U.S. are turning back or quarantining people arriving by air from China.
Japan quarantined a cruise ship with 3,700 people aboard in the port city of Yokohama after a passenger tested positive for the virus.
Economists worry global supply lines will break down; colleges and universities are busy dealing with getting students studying abroad in China back to their home countries.
Macau, a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China akin to Hong Kong, had ordered its casinos to be closed, a major hit for the economy of the world’s largest gambling center.
The pet population of Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, is in severe danger, but not because pets can catch the virus. (The WHO says there is no evidence companion animals can be infected with the Novel Coronavirus.) Rather it is because many pet owners had traveled out of Wuhan to visit relatives during the Lunar New Year holiday period, leaving just a few days’ worth of food and water out for their furry friends, birds, reptiles and fish, and they are not being readmitted to that quarantined city.
Ocean County’s public health officials are carefully monitoring the situation and keeping in close contact with the CDC, WHO and the N.J. Department of Health to get all the latest information as it becomes available and then pass it along to public health providers, school administrators, community leaders and public officials. In the meantime, the OCHD is urging people to take the same precautions against the Novel Coronavirus that are recommended against another virus that is currently threatening Americans thanks to “widespread” influenza activity in 49 states, the common seasonal flu:
Wash your hands often with soap and water and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands.
Stay home if you are sick and avoid sick people.
Review and follow CDC travel advisories when planning a trip.
If you have recently returned to the U.S. after foreign travel and feel sick, call your doctor or hospital ER before showing up so healthcare providers can prepare a private space for you in order to avoid contaminating other patients.
“The risk of the new coronavirus to the general public remains low at this time,” said Regenye. “The CDC is working hard to identify any new cases in the United States, but here in Ocean County we should remain vigilant by taking the necessary precautions to prevent any further illness from spreading.”
— Rick Mellerup