Coronavirus outbreak is not the first time that China has faced a dangerous and life-threatening epidemic considering China’s battle with the SARS epidemic in 2003. The World Health Organisation has declared the current outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The representatives of WHO in Beijing have informed the government to be prepared for the possibilities of a spread of coronavirus in other countries. The disease was first detected in Wuhan, China which spread on by infecting more than seventeen thousand people in China and killed almost three hundred. Furthermore, this case started appearing in at least twenty-three other countries on four continents.
Alessandro Vespignani, the director of the Laboratory for the Modeling of Biological and Socio-technical Systems at Northeastern University and the Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor of physics said that the detection of the cause of this outbreak will either contain the epidemic there in China or it will turn into a global issue. The Chinese authorities restricted all transportation in Wuhan. Quarantine of other Chinese cities followed with the closing of the border between Russia and China and suspension of communication between many other neighbouring countries. The U.S. government issued the highest level warnings and eventually suspended the entry of any citizen who recently travelled to China by quarantining them for up to two weeks. Vespignani accepts that these regulations are helping the scientists to examine the virus better but says that “this is not something that can be done indefinitely within China and internationally.”
An assistant professor in Northeastern’s Network Science Institute, Samuel Scarpino is working with a group of researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, HealthMap, and Tsinghua University to collect data of individual cases of coronavirus to determine the characteristics of the disease and how far it can expand but the lack of some information such as case fatality rate makes it difficult to estimate.
The observation of the cause and the effects of this novel infectious disease can help in preventing upcoming outbreaks in the future. Meanwhile, Scarpino advises getting a flu shot as a precautious measure.