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What Is Coronavirus & What Happens Now It Is a Pandemic

The disease appears to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded illegally. Coronaviruses are known to jump from animals to humans, so it’s thought that the first people infected with the disease – a group primarily made up of stallholders from the seafood market – contracted it from contact with animals.

Although an initial analysis of the virus that causes Covid-19 suggested it was similar to viruses seen in snakes, the hunt for the animal source of Covid-19 is still on. A team of virologists at the Wuhan Institute for Virology released a detailed paper showing that the new coronaviruses’ genetic makeup is 96 per cent identical to that of a coronavirus found in bats, while an as-yet unpublished study argues that genetic sequences of coronavirus in pangolins are 99 per cent similar to the human virus. Some early cases of Covid-19, however, appear to have inflicted people with no link to the Wuhan market at all, suggesting that the initial route of human infection may pre-date the market cases.

The Wuhan market was shut down for inspection and cleaning on January 1, but by then it appears that Covid-19 was already starting to spread beyond the market itself. On January 21, the WHO Western Pacific office said the disease was also being transmitted between humans – evidence of which is apparent after medical staff became infected with the virus. Since then, evidence of widespread human-to-human transmission outside of China has been well established, making chances of containing the virus much harder.

What exactly is Covid-19?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are known to infect both humans and animals, and in humans cause respiratory illness that range from common colds to much more serious infections. The most well-known case of a coronavirus epidemic was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which, after first being detected in southern China in 2002, went on to affect 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths. The number of people infected with Covid-19 has now well surpassed those hit with Sars.

While the cause of the current outbreak was initially unknown, on January 7 Chinese health authorities identified that it was caused by to a strain of coronavirus that hadn’t been encountered in humans before. Five days later the Chinese government shared the genetic sequence of the virus so that other countries could develop their own diagnostic kits. That virus is now called Sars-CoV-2.

Although symptoms of coronaviruses are often mild – the most common symptoms are a fever and dry cough – in some cases they lead to more serious respiratory tract illness including pneumonia and bronchitis. These can be particularly dangerous in older patients, or people who have existing health conditions, and this appears to be the case with Covid-19. A study of 44,415 early Chinese Covid-19 patients found that 81 per cent of people with confirmed infections experienced only mild symptoms. Of the remaining cases, 14 per cent were in a severe condition while five per cent of people were critical cases, suffering from respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure. In the Chinese study, 2.3 per cent of all confirmed cases died, although the actual death rate is probably much lower as many more people will have been infected with the virus than tested positive.

How far has it spread?

China has borne the brunt of Covid-19 infections (so far). As of March 11, Chinese health authorities had acknowledged over 81,250 cases and 3,253 deaths – most of them within the province of Hubei. On March 17, China recorded just 39 new cases of the virus – a remarkable slowdown for a country which, at the peak of its outbreak in mid-February, saw more than 5,000 cases in a single day.

But while things were slowing down in China, the outbreak started picking up in the rest of the world. There are now confirmed cases in at least 150 countries and territories. Outside of China, Italy has seen the highest number of cases, with 47,035 confirmed infections, mostly in the north of the country, and 4,032 deaths – more than in China. The entire country is now on lockdown after the quarantine covering the north of the country was extended on March 9.

Spain is also in the grip of a significant outbreak. The country has 20,410 confirmed infections and 1,043 deaths – the second-highest number within Europe. There, citizens are under lockdown, with the government shutting all schools, bars, restaurants and non-essential supermarkets down. People are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food or to go to work. Germany has 19,711 cases and 53 deaths, with the state of Bavaria implementing a full lockdown.

Iran, too, is seeing a surge in cases. The country has confirmed at least 1,433 deaths and 19,664 cases. In the US, there have been more than 14,631 cases and 210 deaths – 74 of them in Washington State, which has become the epicentre of the US outbreak.

While the number of new cases continues to rise sharply, people are also recovering from the infection. Globally, 84,960 people have recovered from Covid-19 – about 32 per cent of all of the people who had confirmed infections, although the true number of coronavirus cases will be much higher.

What’s the latest in the UK?

As of March 18, the UK has reported 3,983 confirmed Covid-19 infections and 177 deaths. On March 16, prime minister Boris Johnson led the first daily coronavirus press conference, saying that the government now advised all UK residents to avoid non-essential social contact and travel where possible. On Friday March 20 this was extended to include a shutdown of all bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants in the UK. From the same day all schools in England, Scotland and Wales were shut until further notice. Only vulnerable children, or those who are the sons and daughters of employees in the NHS or other key industries, will be permitted to remain at school.

People who currently live alone are recommended to self-isolate for seven days if they develop a fever or persistent dry cough – the two most common symptoms of coronavirus. For families and other people who live together, the advice is that the entire household should self-isolate if any member develops either of those symptoms. This strategy is part of the government’s ‘delay phase‘ plan to flatten the peak of the virus and reduce the burden on the NHS.

A key part of this plan is shielding those who are most vulnerable to Covid-19: people older than 70, or those who have underlying health conditions. The prime minister said that this shielding may last as long as 12 weeks in order to ensure that the peak of the outbreak has passed, although modelling from Imperial College London suggests that these measures may have to be in place for as long as 18 months. Despite these measures, some have been critical that the government’s stance doesn’t go far enough. Italy and Spain have both in place widespread lockdowns, while South Korea has rolled-out extremely comprehensive testing for many of its population.

The outbreak has also had a serious impact on the UK’s stock market. On March 9 the FTSE 100 fell by more than eight per cent, knocking billions off the value of major UK companies. Cinema changes Odeon, Cineworld and Vue closed their doors while Euro 2020 was also delayed until 2021, which is an added blow to broadcasters, particularly ITV.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

Covid-19 shares many of its symptoms with the flu or common cold, although there are certain symptoms common to flu and colds that are not usually seen in Covid-19. People with confirmed cases of Covid-19 rarely suffer from a runny nose, for instance.

The most common Covid-19 symptoms are a fever and a dry cough. Of 55,924 early Chinese cases of the disease, nearly 90 per cent of patients experienced a fever and just over two-thirds suffered with a dry cough. That’s why the UK government is advising anyone with a high temperature or a new, continuous cough to stay at home for seven days or, if they live with other people, for the entire household to isolate for 14 days from the first onset of symptoms.

Other Covid-19 symptoms are less common. Just under 40 per cent of people with the disease experience fatigue, while a third of people cough up sputum – a thick mucus from within the lungs. Other rarer symptoms include shortness of breath, muscle pain, sore throats, headaches or chills. According to the WHO, symptoms tend to appear between five and six days after infection.

What’s happening with a vaccine?

A vaccine for Covid-19 isn’t around the corner. Bringing vaccines to the market is a notoriously slow process and any potential vaccine will have to pass multiple stages of testing for safety and effectiveness. And once we know a vaccine is safe, we will also need to manufacture it at a scale high enough to use across the world. It’s likely that any vaccine is around 18 months away.

That said, there is lots of work being done to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. The pharmaceutical firm Sanofi is trying to build on its already-approved flu vaccine and turn it into something suitable to treat Covid-19. Other approaches – such as one being trialled by the University of Oxford – are focusing on the external spike proteins on the Covid-19 virus as a way to target vaccines.

But accelerating these efforts will require funding. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has called for $2 billion in funding to support the development of new coronavirus vaccines.

What’s going to happen next?

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the window of opportunity to contain Covid-19 is “narrowing”. Recent outbreaks in Italy and Iran, which so far have no clear link to China, pose a significant challenge to health authorities trying to stop the spread of the virus.

After initially delaying the decision, on March 11, the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. The agency cited the rapid growth of cases outside of China and the global spread of the disease as reasons behind the designation. In January, it also declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” – the highest category of warning for an infectious disease outbreak.

Since 2009 there have only been five declarations of international public health emergencies: the swine flu pandemic in 2009, a polio outbreak in 2014, the Western Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, the Zika virus outbreak in 2015 and another Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019.

Matt Reynolds is WIRED’s science editor. He tweets from @mattsreynolds1

Source: What is coronavirus and what happens now it is a pandemic?

Please follow my instagram: http://instagram.com/arminhamidian67

And why the disease first appeared in China. NOTE: As our expert Peter Li points out in the video, “The majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals. Those people who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful –a small minority.” This video explains how the people of China are themselves victims of the conditions that led to coronavirus. The virus is affecting many different countries and cultures, and there is never justification for xenophobia or racism. You can find further reading on this on Vox: https://www.vox.com/2020/2/7/21126758… https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politi… https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/3…

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China’s E-Learning Leaders Add $3.2 Billion As Coronavirus Fears Drive Students Online

The coronavirus outbreak has been hitting China’s economy hard as many businesses have had to temporarily shut down their operations amid tight quarantine rules. But measures to stop the spread of the illness have also become an unexpected boon for at least one industry: online education.

With the opening of schools pushed back to March and all extracurricular activities suspended, tens of millions of students have been told to go online to study. And the country’s providers of online tutoring services are suddenly experiencing a surge in interest from students and their parents.

The biggest winner appears to be TAL Education’s Zhang Bangxin, who saw his wealth increase by $1.7 billion, giving him a current net worth of at least $10 billion. His New York-listed company rallied 20% last month on expectations of strong growth. The 40-year-old Zhang has catapulted past the likes of JD.com’s founder Richard Liu ($8.7 billion) and Baidu’s Robin Li ($7.1 billion) to reach No. 24 on China’s wealth rankings.

“This is like a natural marketing campaign for these companies,” says Jiao Wei, an analyst at Shanghai-based research firm 86 Research. “Parents who didn’t know much about online education can now see how it works and how classes are being streamed online.”

TAL has partnered with more than 300 public schools across China to stream free classes, and its Xueersi unit is providing complementary K-12 online tutoring sessions. Other education companies are also launching more e-learning courses, while developing data tools to analyze student performance and help teachers track their progress.

Shares of New York-listed New Oriental rose 7.3% last month, adding $190 million to the wealth of its founder Yu Minhong. His current net worth is estimated at $3.4 billion. And Chen Xiangdong, founder of GSX Techedu, also listed in New York, has seen his net worth rise to $4.75 billion, thanks to a 40% rally that added another $1.3 billion to the value of his stake in the same period. The three education billionaires’ combined $3.2 billion gain makes them stand out as rare winners at a time when the coronavirus outbreak has battered industries ranging from hospitality to retail and logistics. As of Thursday, the virus that had infected nearly 80,000 people in China has been estimated to shave $60 billion off China’s economic growth.

Analysts say that education companies are likely to benefit from the increased attention for their services for some time. After both students and parents become more familiar with virtual classrooms, they can be enticed to try other products and pay for services down the road. Terry Weng, a Shenzhen-based analyst at research firm Blue Lotus Research Group, estimates that 22% of Chinese K-12 students will take part in online tutoring by end of this year, up from 17% in 2019. Driven by tough competition for good schools and jobs, as well as technological advances in virtual learning, China’s online education market is expected to more than triple to 696 billion yuan ($99.3 billion) in 2023 from last year’s 203 billion yuan, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.

More on Forbes: No Customers, Closed Stores: Chinese Entrepreneurs Brace For The Worst Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

But analysts also caution that the current e-learning boom may not translate into higher revenue or profit—at least not in the short term. In a bid to attract more users, many services are being offered for free or at a discount. Blue Lotus’s Weng estimates that when TAL actually charges its virtual classes, they are sold at a 10% to 30% discount compared with lessons for its offline learning centers. The company generated $6.5 million in profits from $2.5 billion in sales during the first nine months of 2019. Before the virus struck, TAL was estimated to derive between 20% and 30% of its revenues from online learning and the remainder came from its offline centers.

Still, investors seem willing to overlook any short-term loss and focus on future gains. Aside from faster user growth for their online services, TAL and New Oriental’s offline businesses may also capture a larger share of the overall education market. This is due to the fact that smaller service providers are running out of cash, and probably won’t stay in business much longer. They still have to pay rent and teachers’ salaries, even when China suspended all types of offline classes and ordered tuition refunds.

“The gradual exit of smaller education firms means there are more opportunities for TAL and New Oriental,” Weng says. “Investors are more keen for their future performance.”

I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: ywywyuewang@gmail.com Twitter: @yueyueyuewang

Source: China’s E-Learning Leaders Add $3.2 Billion As Coronavirus Fears Drive Students Online

There are at least 29 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United States. It’s a small fraction of the number of cases in China, but the fear surrounding the coronavirus outbreak knows no bounds. Many Chinese students in America are on edge, and worry for family members in China. CGTN’s Dan Williams met some students at Northwestern University.

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