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Homeland Security

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in January 2020. By 09 February 2020 Chinse sources were using the term novel coronavirus pneumonia (NPC) for the disease. 2019nCoV was renamed COVID-19 by WHO on 11 February 2020. Official names were announced for the virus responsible for COVID-19 (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) and the disease it causes. The official name for the disease is "coronavirus disease (COVID-19)" and the name of the virus is "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)". Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names. For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. People often know the name of a disease, such as measles, but not the name of the virus that causes it (rubeola). From a risk communications perspective, using the name SARS can have unintended consequences in terms of creating unnecessary fear for some populations, especially in Asia which was worst affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003.

By late January 2021, coronavirus had killed over 2 million people and seen 100 million confirmed infections across the globe. Countries are currently rushing to roll out vaccination programs, while experts say that the global inoculation process could extend well into 2022.

The global economy is set to lose over $22 trillion (€18 trillion) between 2020 and 2025, due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on 26 January 2021. The economy would likely see a strong rebound this year, but the pandemic is causing severe damage, said IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath. "Now at $22 trillion, the projected cumulative output loss over 2020 to 2025, relative to the pre-pandemic projected levels remains substantial". After sinking 3.5% in 2020, the worst year since World War II, the global economy will likely grow by 5.5% this year, according to the forecast.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s report released on 15 December 2020, the world economy was expected to contract 4.2 percent this year. By the contrast, the OECD sees China recording economic growth of 1.8 percent as the only major economy expected to record economic growth in 2020. This is the result of China's arduous fight against COVID-19 at the great expense of Chinese people's sacrifice.

The virus first appeared in late 2019 from the Chinese city of Wuhan. The first death was reported on 11 January 2020. By the time Chinese officials closed the city nearly two weeks later, millions of travelers had come and gone. China has been criticized that it did not do enough to warn other countries about the threat. Government leaders in countries like Germany, South Korea and New Zealand worked effectively to contain the virus. But leaders in the U.S. and Brazil dismissed the threat and the advice of scientists.

More than 1 million dead in just nine months made coronavirus one of the greatest threats to public health ever recorded. It is greater than the yearly number of deaths from AIDS, which last year killed about 690,000 people around the world. It may grow larger than the number of yearly deaths from tuberculosis, about 1.5 million. However, COVID-19 has taken far fewer lives than the so-called Spanish flu. It killed an estimated 40 million to 50 million worldwide in two years, just over 100 years ago.

Anthony McDonnell, et al reported 01 October 2020 that "modelling suggests that there is a 50 percent chance that by the end of April 2021 there will be a vaccine safe and efficacious enough to win approval from a stringent regulator; by the end of 2021, this rises to 85 percent.... it will probably take more than a year to produce enough vaccines to inoculate the world’s 50 million medical staff, and that it could be September 2023 before we have enough doses for the whole world. ... first-generation vaccines will not be effective enough to end the pandemic on their own, and that it will take longer to develop vaccines that fully prevent infection."

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the number of one million deaths from the coronavirus was “a very sad milestone.” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said 30 September 2020 from Geneva “So many people have lost so many people and haven’t had the chance to say goodbye. Many people who died, died alone... It’s a terribly difficult and lonely death”. The one million number was recorded by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. But it is almost certainly a large undercount because of problems with testing as well as reporting by some countries. It has been nine months since the virus arrived and destroyed much of the international economy. The virus has tested world leaders’ ability to fight the health crisis. And it has found science and politics working against each other.

India overtook Brazil on 07 September 2020 as the country with the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, even as key metro train lines re-opened as part of efforts to boost the South Asian nation's battered economy. India had emerged as the new global pandemic hotspot, although cases continued to soar across the globe with reported infections worldwide nearing 27 million and deaths surpassing 880,000. The total global tally of COVID-19 infections surpassed 30 million on 18 September 2020. Israel re-entered a nationwide lockdown while France and the UK imposed new restrictions.

Global coronavirus cases exceeded 10 million on 28 June 2020, according to Johns Hopkins University. The respiratory disease has killed almost half a million people in seven months. More than five million had recovered. Reporting on the pandemic is dominated by numbers - usually numbers of cases, numbers of deaths, and so forth. Preliminary case fatality rates vary widely between countries: For instance, from Belgium's 16.42% to Singapore's 0.09%. These numbers embody the falacy of misplaced concreteness - the create a comforting sense of false certainty. The number of cases may reflect the number of cases detected by testing, or the number of cases diagnosed by symptoms. The number detected by testing reflects both the "actual" of cases, as well as policies and practices of testing. Some countries apply tests only to severely ill patients in hospitals, while others test the population very broadly, finding many people who are not infected. The body count may reflect total deaths due to COVID-19, or only such deaths in hospitals, ignoring deaths at home or in old folks homes. As with the case count, the death count may include only those unfavorable outcomems that tested positive for COVID-19, or also the unfavorable outcomes with symptomatic diagnosis.

Some countries, like Spain, carry out post-mortem COVID-19 tests, while in others like Germany, the UK, or Turkey it not a common practice. Belgium, for example, counts all coronavirus deaths outside hospitals in its daily statistics: This means the country includes people suspected of having died of coronavirus, without a confirmed positive test result, whereas countries like Italy only count deaths in hospitals. Spain only started to count non-hospitalized, coronavirus-related deaths from some regions by May 2020.

Johns Hopkins University said on 28 April 2020 that the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections had reached 3,090,000 globally, with the US topping the list at 1,004,908 cases. The number of infections in the US had doubled since it topped 500,000 on April 11. More than 20,000 new cases are still being confirmed daily, but the rate of increase was slowing.

The number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus reached 150,000, according a Johns Hopkins University tally 17 April 2020. It took 83 days for the first 50,000 deaths to be recorded and just eight more for the toll to climb to 100,000. It took another eight days to go from 100,000 to 150,000. By late April 2020 the number of people who had caught the disease reached 2,500,000 worldwide.

The death toll from the coronavirus had surpassed 190,000 worldwide by 24 April 2020 and continued to grow. The United States remained the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with over 870,000 infected and over 50,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York was the worst-hit city, with 145,000 confirmed cases and a death toll in excess of 16,300.

The World Health Organization said 02 April 2020 the coronavirus was primarily transmitted from patients with symptoms. In its latest report, the WHO said symptomatic people transmit COVID-19 through droplets of saliva and nose mucus to others in close contact. The report cites as other routes of infection direct contact with infected persons and contaminated objects and surfaces. It suggests that infected people are especially contagious in the first three days of symptoms because more of the virus is released from the nose and throat in that period. The WHO says the virus incubation period is five or six days on average but can be up to 14. It adds that infected people can be contagious before they develop symptoms.

By April 2020, some 3.9 billion people — roughly half of everyone on Earth — were confined to their homes by the coronavirus pandemic. The number of coronavirus infections continue to rise worldwide, with more than 1,013,000 people diagnosed, as the death toll surpassed 53,000, including almost 6,000 in the United States, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University early on 03 April 2020. South Korea has reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its caseload above 10,000, South Korea has reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its caseload above 10,000.

By the end of March 2020 the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases around the world neared 900,000, with more than 38,000 deaths. The toll on health systems is staggering, with medical professionals under enormous strain. Spain announced 01 April 2020 it had surpassed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, while the death toll that stood at more than 9,000. Italy, the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus, confirmed 10,023 people dead and 92,472 infected as of 29 March 2020. France had 37,575 confirmed cases of infection and 2,314 deaths. Germany had 397 victims – a death rate below 1 percent -- and 53,340 people tested positive for the coronavirus. According to the latest official statistics, more than 2,500 people died in Wuhan, where the first COVID-19 cases were reported.

More than 100,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease had been reported globally as of 07 March 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said. Among those 101,827 confirmed infections before 6 a.m. CET (0500 GMT) Saturday, 3,484 patients have died, he said.

World Health Organization (WHO) stated 11 March 2020 "WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic". The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged all countries to activate and scale up emergency response mechanisms. "This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector – so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight," he stressed.

Italy's death toll from coronavirus overtook that of China, where the virus first emerged, on 19 March 2020 as hospitals said they were being overwhelmed and the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures. A total 427 deaths were registered in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the total nationwide tally to 3,405 since the outbreak surfaced on Feb. 21. China has recorded 3,245 deaths since early January. However, Italy has far fewer confirmed cases - 41,035 against 80,907 in China.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian irritated Donald Trump on 12 March 2020 when he questioned the US on Twitter and raised the possibility that it was the US army that brought the virus to Wuhan in October 2019. Trump repeatedly and deliberately used the term "Chinese virus," which is considered racist by some. This showed that Trump and his team were panicking and misbehaving. They had not found any good way to take the pandemic and the market sentiment under control. As a result, they escalated conflicts with China, trying to escape Americans' questions over their incompetence, making China a target of anger.

Democratically elected strongmen – who electorally profited from sowing discord in the ‘post-truth’ era of politics – scrambled to put together a transparent, factually-based response to contend with a global pandemic. The sloppy reaction by right-wing populist governments revealed how managerially incompetent and civically damaging their nativist playbook is in times of crisis, all the while widening the chasm of global governance in an age of insularity.

Donald Trump moved from dismissing Covid-19 as nothing more than the “winter flu” that would “disappear in the spring” to declaring a national emergency and passing a $1 trillion stimulus package. But his administration wasted precious time as the crisis worsened. For the self-acknowledged germophobe Trump, the outbreak was to be seen through the prism of the stock market and his own re-election. He first floated the idea that the virus was a Democrat “hoax” to undermine him. Pressure was applied on his officials to downplay the risks.

In a masterstroke of reckless hindsight, he had dismantled the office in charge of pandemic response within his National Security Council in 2018. Repeated calls for cuts to public health agencies made it clear the Trump administration never bothered to prioritise the federal government’s ability to counter a pandemic. Furthermore, Trump’s war on expertise was directly linked to decades-long cultivation of anti-intellectualism within American conservatism, which has manifested most prominently during his presidency.

This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continued to grow. Within a few weeks the new coronavirus had resulted in thousands of confirmed cases in China, and hundreds of deaths, with additional cases had been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. But these early numbers were small relative to seasonal flu, which is expected to kill 50,000 people in the year 2020 in the United States alone.

While considerable uncertainty surrounded this incident, there were at least two reasons for concern about this outbreak. Unlike the SARS coronavirus, which produced a high fever soon after infectoin, it was suspected that carriers of the novel coronavirus could infect others for many days [possibly up to two weeks] before showing any symptoms. The diagnostic fever of SARS facilitated containment, which would not be possible with the novel coronavirus. The coronavirus can survive for five days maximum on smooth surfaces under suitable circumstances, according to experts from China's Health Commission.

Second, the contagiousness and deadliness of the novel coronavirus are similar to the Spanish Flu, a pandemic which killed some 50,000,000 people in the year 1918. The case specific mortality rate for the novel coronavirus was about 2%, ten times that of seasonal flu, but the age specific mortality rate for elderly patients with compromised immune systems [eg, diabetes], appeared to be much higher, possibly approaching the 10% rate of SARS. The epidemic is doubling every 6.4 days. In sum, the novel coronavirus may be difficult to contain, with catastrophic consequences.

But many health care officials were optimistic that such worst case outcomes can be avoided. Chinese officials expressed confidence that under the government's organizational arrangements, the epidemic would be brought under control by mid-February 2020. Zhongshan Nan, a Chinese expert on new coronavirus infection, said 02 February 2010 that after China has adopted a series of severe epidemic prevention and control measures, the epidemic is expected to reach its peak in the next 10 days to two weeks, but he also warned against relaxing vigilance. On 07 February 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would be impossible to determine an inflection point. WHO spokesperson Tarik Jašarevic said, "At this stage, it is not possible to predict the spread of the virus as this is a new disease with many unknowns."

As of 20 February, 2114 of the 55,924 laboratory confirmed cases had died (crude fatality ratio [CFR2 ] 3.8%) (note: at least some of whom were identified using a case definition that included pulmonary disease). Individuals at highest risk for severe disease and death include people aged over 60 years and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. Patients who reported being retirees had the highest CFR at 8.9%. While patients who reported no comorbid conditions had a CFR of 1.4%, patients with comorbid conditions had much higher rates: 13.2% for those with cardiovascular disease, 9.2% for diabetes, 8.4% for hypertension, 8.0% for chronic respiratory disease, and 7.6% for cancer.

The coronavirus outbreak in Iran became a source of controversy, following the disclosure by an Iranian parliament member that 50 people have died from the virus solely in the city of Qom. Iran’s health ministry insisted on 24 February 2020 that only 12 people have died from the virus in the entire country. At least four senior government officials announced that they tested positive for the virus. The first was Iran’s deputy minister of health, Iraj Harirchi, coming after a news conference where he looked sweaty and unwell. The second is prominent member of parliament, Mahmoud Sadeghi. The third is Masoumeh Ebtekar, a vice president in the Islamic Republic and a spokeswoman for the 1979 Islamic revolutionary hostage-takers. Mojtaba Zonnouri, a hard-line cleric from Qom who also serves in parliament, posted a video online acknowledging he had been infected. A total of four Iranian lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus as the rapid spread of the outbreak forced the cancellation of Friday Prayers in many mosques across the country.

Wuhan Medical Center Hospital Doctor Li Wenliang and eight other medical staff disclosed the novel coronavirus epidemic in WeChat at the end of December 2019. On New Year's Day, Wuhan police summoned them, and accused them of distributing false information. At that time, Li Wenliang signed and printed his handprint at the request of the police. About 20 days later, the official acknowledged for the first time that the new type of pneumonia was indeed transmitted from some people. Dr. Li Wenliang contracted the virus while treating patients, and his death was confirmed 07 February 2020.

By late February 2020 at least 760 million people were locked down in China according to a New York Times analysis of government announcements in provinces and major cities. That's more than half the country’s population. After authorities extended the Lunar New Year holiday by 10 days in an attempt to contain the new coronavirus outbreak that had killed more than 900 people and infected more than 40,000, most provinces in China ended the official holiday on Monday 10 February 2020. According to the notice issued by the State Council, only the "businesses essential to the welfare of the general population" are allowed to reopen. Amid concerns of a potential uptick in cases as people return to work, the official ending of the holiday did not lead to the widespread reopening of businesses as the entire country remained on high alert. Across China, large companies extended their holiday until February 17 as well. However, the majority of the workforce in China is employed in informal sectors, such as construction. Many of those workers struggled since their daiy income dried up and are anxiously waiting to return to work.

Chongqing and Chengdu were two of the urban centers to join a list of approximately 80 which have put the entire city under effective lockdown. In addition to restricting the movement of residents, some cities have closed themselves off to arrivals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus an international emergency on 30 January 2020 but held off on recommending restrictions on the movement of people. The UN health agency praised "China's aggressive containment effort". The World Health Organization, which faced criticism for initially downplaying the virus threat, revised its risk assessment after crisis talks in Geneva. "Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The United States told its citizens not to travel to China in the first major response to the WHO's declaration of a global emergency. The State Department in Washington raised it warning alert to the highest level, telling US citizens not to travel to China because of the epidemic which has now spread to more than 20 nations.

Diamond Princess Diamond Princess

The Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined off the Japanese port of Yokohama on 03 February 2020 after reports that one of the passengers had the new type of coronavirus. The Diamond Princess, operated by a US company, departed from Yokohama on January 20th. Its 16-day itinerary featured stops in Kagoshima, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Okinawa. The original passenger manifest included 2,666 travelers from 56 countries and regions and 1,045 crewmembers. The health authorities say about half are Japanese nationals.

A total of 20 people aboard Carnival Japan’s Diamond Princess had been diagnosed with the virus since it arrived at the port city of Yokohama. The vessel and its 3,700 passengers and crew members have been quarantined after a passenger who disembarked after the ship docked in Hong Kong late last month tested positive for the virus. The number of people infected with novel coronavirus on board the cruise ship quarantined off the Japanese coast had risen from 20 to 61, Japan's NHK broadcaster reported 07 February 2020 citing the Ministry of Health. According to the outlet, passengers and crew members who showed symptoms such as fever, or were in close contact to others who were infected, were tested for the virus. Those newly infected will be transported to medical institutions in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Shizuoka Prefectures, as well as Kanagawa Prefecture. Japan's Health Minister Katsunobu Kato advised that the ship would be quarantined for two weeks, and all passengers would be required to remain on board. There were some 3,700 people on board the vessel, including 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members, according to Princess Cruises. Passengers could not leave their cabins for any reason, and that all food would be delivered by the ship’s crew.

The huge vessel moored in Yokohama near Tokyo was easily the biggest coronavirus cluster outside the Chinese epicentre, with 621 positive cases confirmed among the passengers and crew. On 19 February 2020, 443 passengers disembarked from the ship after testing negative for the COVID-19 virus and not showing symptoms during a 14-day quarantine period. The complete removal of the passengers was expected to take at least three days. A specialist in infectious diseases at Kobe University rocked the boat with a video slamming "completely chaotic" quarantine procedures onboard, in rare criticism from a Japanese official. "The cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of infection control," said Kentaro Iwata in videos he has since deleted, saying "there is no need to discuss this further".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said foreign passengers on another ship carrying about 2,000 people will not be allowed to enter Japan. Abe said virus-infected passengers may be on board, while the operator of Holland America’s Westerdam denied anyone was infected. The ship is currently near Ishigaki, an island of Okinawa. About 3,600 passengers are stuck aboard another ship remains off the Hong Kong's coast, with three cases on board.

Taiwan announced it was banning all international cruise ships from docking at the island.

Influenza vaccine can prevent illness in approximately 70-90% of healthy people aged less than 65 years. Among elderly people living outside of nursing homes or similar chronic-care facilities, influenza vaccine is 30-70% effective in preventing hospitalization for pneumonia and influenza. Among elderly persons residing in nursing homes, the vaccine can be 50-60% effective in preventing hospitalization or pneumonia and 80% effective in preventing death.

During seasons when the flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent. Some people may experience flu like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people.

For everything that virologists have learned about rhinoviruses — the cause of the majority of colds — they have not invented a vaccine for them. The development of vaccines for the common cold has been difficult because of antigenic variability of the common cold virus and the indistinguishable multiple other viruses and even bacteria acting as infective agents. There is uncertainty regarding the efficacy and safety of interventions for preventing the common cold in healthy people. Rhinoviruses are a wily foe. They’ve evolved into many different forms, and so antibodies to one form (known as a serotype) usually don’t work against any others.

Some types of rhinovirus can invade deep into the lungs. Many cases of childhood pneumonia turn out to be caused by rhinoviruses. Rhinoviruses are especially dangerous for people who already have certain chronic disorders such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even a mild cold can trigger runaway inflammation in their lungs. It turns out that the majority of asthma attacks are brought on by rhinoviruses.

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Page last modified: 22-02-2021 18:54:58 ZULU