A new strain of coronavirus, 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), was first identified earlier this month by Chinese researchers in Wuhan, a city in central China of 11 million people. The cases were linked to a market that sold live animals. The market was shut down and disinfected, but the confirmed human infections have spread.
To date, there have been more than 600 confirmed cases in Asia, including at least 17 deaths, and cases have now been confirmed in Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. We also have one reported case in the United States.
The World Health Organization is discussing whether to declare an international health emergency (previous emergencies include Zika and Ebola). Chinese authorities announced yesterday that they are temporarily cutting off transportation to and from Wuhan as well as public transportation within the city in an effort to contain the virus. Airports around the world, including in the U.S., are screening passengers from Wuhan to detect infection and prevent further spread of the disease.
United States Impact
The first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States was announced on January 21, 2020 (CDC) in the state of Washington. The patient, a man in his thirties, returned to the U.S. from Wuhan on January 12, 2020 and sought medical care. Based on the patient’s symptoms and history, a clinical specimen was collected and sent to the CDC, where laboratory testing confirmed the diagnosis via a Real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) test. CDC is working with the state of Washington to determine if anyone else has contracted the virus. The patient is listed in good condition at a hospital in Snohomish County, north of Seattle.
Airports in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are screening flights arriving from Wuhan, with Atlanta and Chicago to begin screening later this week.
About the Disease
Coronaviruses is part of a large family of viruses which causes respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed almost 800 people in a 2003 outbreak. So far, the coronavirus seems less severe than SARS.
Common human coronaviruses typically cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses with symptoms that resemble the flu or a bad cold, such as a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, high fever and general feeling of being unwell. More severe symptoms may include difficulty breathing, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung lesions. The time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is not exactly known but it is thought to be approximately two weeks.
Initially, the source of outbreak was linked to animals at the Wuhan South China Seafood City (also called the South China Seafood Wholesale Market and the Hua Nan Seafood Market). However, more cases have been identified since closing the market on January 1, which suggests that person-to-person transmission is occurring. The exact mode of transmission of this new strain of coronavirus is not completely understood, but prior strains of human coronavirus are most commonly spread from an infected person to others via:
- Air by coughing and sneezing
- Close personal, skin to skin contact
- Touching an infected object or surface then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes
- Fecal contamination, although this is very rare
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against human coronavirus infection, although the National Institutes of Health have begun working on one. In order to reduce the risk of infection, it is imperative to adhere to the following tips:
- Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands frequently with liquid soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching public installations such as handrails or doorknobs and before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
- When your hands are not visibly soiled and soap and water are not available, clean your hands with sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Consider wearing a surgical mask in public.
- Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
- Avoid animal markets in Asia.
There is no specific treatment available. If you believe that you have been exposed to someone with coronavirus or you might have coronavirus, we recommend that you contact your primary care physician immediately.
Your physician may prescribe medication to address pain and/or fever. CDC suggests taking a hot shower or using a humidifier to alleviate a sore throat or cough. Drinking lots of fluids and getting as much rest as possible are also advised.
The information provided is not a complete analysis of every material fact and are subject to change.
Securities and some investment advisory services are offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.
Financial Planning and some investment advisory services are offered through Cameron Thornton Associates, a Registered Investment Adviser.
Cameron Thornton Associates and Cetera Advisor Networks LLC are non-affiliated companies.
The opinions expressed in this letter are those of Cameron M. Thornton, CFP®. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance information is historical and not indicative of future results. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance does not guarantee results.
Websites provided as a courtesy and are not under the control of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC or Cameron Thornton Associates.
Cameron M. Thornton, CFP® is a Representative with Cetera Advisor Networks LLC and may be reached at www.cameronthornton.com or (818) 841-1746.