On Wednesday more than 6,000 cases of the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus were confirmed in China.
91 cases have spread across 17 areas, including at least five in the U.S. Two of those cases were confirmed in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
The novel coronavirus, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, was first detected in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China on Dec. 1, 2019. The name “coronavirus” comes from the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. Previous examples of coronavirus include SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
The potential origin of the virus is believed to be Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a market in Wuhan that sells seafood and wild animals. But this is contested. Science Magazine suggests that this may not be the source of the virus given that there are cases in which the patient had never been exposed to the market.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the coronavirus can be transferred from wild animals to people when they eat them. There is also evidence that the virus can be spread through human contact.
Based on a CDC report, people who are infected with the coronavirus usually experience symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. If the virus is confirmed, a patient will experience an incubation period ranging from 2 to 14 days.
December 2019: Pneumonia cases of unknown cause were found in multiple hospitals in Wuhan.
Dec. 30, 2019: Wuhan Municipal Health Committee issued an “urgent notice on the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause.”
Jan. 9, 2020: The first death due to novel coronavirus in Wuhan was reported.
Jan.19: The first coronavirus case outside of Wuhan was found in Guangdong.
Jan. 23: The Wuhan government announced to cut off the city’s transportation, and construction of an emergency hospital for coronavirus patients began.
Jan. 24: The Hubei province went under a city-by-city quarantine.
Jan. 25: Wuhan began building another hospital with more than 1300 beds, and 30 provinces declared the highest level of health emergency.
Jan. 26: Colleges and universities in China began to postpone the return dates for students, and the Spring Festival holiday was extended by three days.
Jan. 29: Tibet became the last province to declare the highest level of health emergency after finding its first suspected case.
Many Chinese students at USC have been paying close attention to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
A lot of people in China canceled their plans to meet friends for the Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year that people traditionally get together to celebrate.
“I’m from Shanghai and my family is not visiting any other relatives,” USC student Alan Deng said. “I don’t think they go out very often. They are very careful.”
Graduate student Zequ You said his parents have canceled their plan to spend the Spring Festival in Shantou where traffic control has been initiated.
Senior Chenyuan Zhang said the new coronavirus cases confirmed in California are not a surprise to her. “I expected that because we have a huge Chinese population,” Zhang said. According to the United States Census Bureau, the population in California reached 39,512,223 in July 2019, and 15.3% of them are Asian.
“Since there are a lot of people, including students, traveling between the U.S. and China, you cannot guarantee that every virus carrier is identified,” You said. “And the virus has a long incubation period. Many people, when they came to the U.S., did not have any symptoms at the beginning, so you can’t really stop them.”
Haihang Jia, president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), said they are implementing a public fundraising event for people to donate masks and other medical supplies to hospitals in need. CSSA said they will also donate all of the income from their Spring Festival tickets to Wuhan.
Jia gave his advice to Chinese students who are experiencing anxiety and concerns about their families and homeland.
“We should communicate with our families as much as possible, convey our concerns and care for them, and persuade them to take protective measures,” Jia said. “Please do not overly-panic, do not believe or spread the rumors, and maintain the ability to tell the facts from rumors.”
According to the “Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Information for Campus” email distributed by the Office of International Services on Jan. 23, USC Student Health “advises persons who recently traveled from Wuhan (in the past 14 days) or have had close contact with some suspected of having an infection with the novel coronavirus to watch for flu-like symptoms…”
According to USC Student Health, symptoms may include fever, muscle or body aches, sore throat and cough, fatigue, headaches. If experiencing symptoms, USC Student Health advises students to use a face mask, and call 213-740-9355 (WELL) to see a medical provider.
In a following campus update email by Chief Health Officer for USC Student Health Sarah Van Orman, measures such as washing hands, covering your nose and mouth and avoiding touching them, as well as avoiding contacting someone who is sick, are recommended to the USC community to prevent themselves from coronavirus.
“The most important thing to actually prevent illness is to wash your hands frequently, or use a hand sanitizer, and then also to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes,” Orman said. “People are likely to get the virus when they touch their own nose, mouth or eyes with dirty hands.”
According to USC Student Health, “students who are experiencing increasing anxiety or stress related to concerns about family in China may see a counselor; call 213-740-9355 (WELL) to arrange an appointment.”
USC Student Health also encourages students who are concerned about the outbreak to join the special “Let’s Talk” group for international students, which is offered in the Office of International Service and facilitated by Alice Phang.
Correction: USC Annenberg Media removed a quote previously included in this article due to generalization concerns.