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5th coronavirus case confirmed in US as China warns of rapid outbreak

Published Jan 27th, 2020 11:04AM EST
coronavirus united states
Image: WALLACE WOON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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A total of five people in the United States are now confirmed to have the coronavirus which originally popped up in China several weeks ago. The total number of infected individuals is steadily approaching 3,000, worldwide, and the latest estimates suggest 80 people have died as a result of their infections.

China has issued a lockdown of some of the affected areas, extending a national holiday in the hopes that people will remain home and prevent the virus from spreading further. Unfortunately, Chinese health officials have also issued a scary new warning about how the virus spreads, and it’s not good news.

China’s health minister revealed over the weekend that the virus appears to spread between people even during its incubation period, meaning that a person doesn’t have to be showing symptoms in order to be contagious. That’s incredibly important, because it means that travelers could easily pass through airport health screening without knowing they are infected, yet still spread the virus to others.

So far, around 50 confirmed cases have been documented outside of China, though the biggest crisis is obviously within the country itself. Tens of millions of people remain under lockdown in China, and hospitals are so overwhelmed with patients that the country has taken to building entirely new treatment facilities specifically to tackle the influx of patients.

If there’s one tiny bit of good news in all of this it’s that health officials and scientists around the world are hard at work on the problem, and efforts to come up with a vaccine are already underway. Let’s hope it arrives sooner rather than later.