The coronavirus has world economists in a panic, especially as the number of cases balloon in China and around the world.
Apple has warned that iPhones could become scarce, and other businesses with critical supply chains in China are ringing alarm bells as well. Cruise operators and airlines are taking a big hit as are credit card companies and health insurers.
Monday, the Dow closed down more than 1,000 points, the biggest drop in more than two years, and today’s market was almost as bad with the Dow down another 879 points. Similar tumbles have occurred in both the Nasdaq and S&P 500.
What’s the current situation on the coronavirus?
Three dozen countries around the world have now confirmed cases of the coronavirus, called COVID-19. In the past 24 hours, three countries were added to the list: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq and Oman.
With just over 80,000 cases, the epicenter of the disease remains in China, where more than 77,000 cases have been reported and 2,666 people have died.
Outside of China, 2,459 cases have been confirmed and 234 deaths.
In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed, but no deaths. Another 10 cases have been confirmed in Canada.
The World Health Organization says the risk of the disease spreading globally is high.
How will this affect the U.S.?
U.S. Health officials warned Tuesday that Americans should prepare for “significant disruption” to their lives as a result of the virus, saying it’s not a matter of if, but when it spreads further, as the disease is highly contagious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying Americans should avoid any non-essential travel to China or South Korea. Further, the CDC strongly advocates simple anti-virus hygiene: frequent hand washing, staying home when ill and so forth (see below).
State and local governments and businesses should prepare in the event face-to-face interactions need to be reduced. Those preparations might include having employees work from home and instituting tele-schooling. Health care facilities should be prepared to increase telehealth systems and delay elective surgeries should the need arise, ABC reports
Messages from the Trump administration are mixed. Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Tuesday the threat to the U.S. from coronavirus “remains low.” Meanwhile, the White House is seeking $1.25 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus.
How can I avoid getting sick?
Individual risk is dependent on exposure. The CDC says that for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
Nonetheless, there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, and it is highly contagious. The risk of a global pandemic is high.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Avoid travel to China and South Korea and avoid interacting with people who have recently traveled there.
The CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that well people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
What are the symptoms of COVID 19?
The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
For confirmed COVID-19 cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. About 14% of sufferers, generally older people and those with already-compromised immune systems, develop pneumonia and become very ill, while about 2% of sufferers will die. Also, some people exposed to the virus may not get ill but could still be infectious.
The rate of death for COVID-19 is currently considerably lower than that of deaths from influenza and pneumonia, which is around 14% in the U.S. and 23% in Mississippi.
Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
Also, see our previous story on the issue, Coronavirus: What you should know.