27/11/2022

Health authorities have mobilized to stop the spread of a new illness from the Chinese city of Wuhan, hoping to avoid a repeat of the SARS outbreak of 2003. Here’s what you need to know

Wuhan, Feb. 7: People pay their respects at a makeshift memorial to Dr. Li Wenliang at a hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. In death, Dr. Li, who was reprimanded for reporting the outbreak in its early stages, became the face of simmering anger at the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information and complaints that officials lie about or hide disease outbreaks.
Chinatopix via AP
The latest

  • Chinas central authorities called workers back to factories and offices for Monday, but there was little evidence of a return to normal in the economic powerhouse of Chongqing, correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe reports.
  • On Sunday, Canada sent a second plane to China to bring home more citizens. A planeload of 176 Canadians and Chinese nationals landed in Ontario on Friday after a journey from Wuhan, the epicentre of a deadly coronavirus outbreak. All on board will spend two weeks in quarantine at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.
  • As of Sunday, 2019-nCoV has killed 812 people, mostly in China, surpassing the death toll from SARS. Only seven cases have been reported in Canada, and seven more Canadians tested positive for the virus aboard the Diamond Princess, a quarantined cruise ship off the Japanese coast. Officials in Canada say the risk here is low. Heres a primer on what those officials say is helpful for the public to do, or not do.
  • One of the people killed by the new virus is Wuhan ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who first warned officials in the city about the outbreak in December. He was detained by police for spreading rumours, but weeks later when the disease made international headlines, news of his actions made him a hero to many Chinese people. His death Friday provoked outrage in China, with unprecedented and open demands for more democratic freedoms.

What does this virus do?
The new virus that emerged last December in China officially called 2019-nCoV, but dubbed the Wuhan virus after the city where it was found is a coronavirus, a common type of infection among humans and animals. Corona means crown or halo in Latin, describing the viruses typical shape when seen under an electron microscope. The common cold is a type of coronavirus, but the Wuhan viruss symptoms (severe coughing, fever and muscle pain) resemble the more serious and dangerous types, such as SARS and MERS.
Much is still unknown about 2019-nCoV. Check The Globe and Mails guide compiling health officials advice for people who are travelling, sick or have questions about the virus.
HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS
INFECT A PERSON?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
The air by coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected surface
Rarely, fecal contamination
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS?
Headache
Runny nose
Sore throat
Cough
Fever
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VIRUS
Belongs to large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people
There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated
MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, WHO
HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS INFECT A PERSON?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
The air by coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected surface
Rarely, fecal contamination
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS?
Headache
Runny nose
Sore throat
Cough
Fever
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VIRUS
Belongs to large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people
There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated
MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, WHO
HOW DOES CORONAVIRUS INFECT A PERSON?
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
The air by coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
Touching the eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected surface
Rarely, fecal
contamination
COMMON SIGNS OF INFECTION
Headache
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death
Runny nose
Sore throat
Cough
Fever
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE VIRUS
Belongs to large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as MERS and SARS
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people
There are no specific treatments for coronaviruses, but symptoms can be treated
MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada, WHO
What China is doing
Wuhan, Jan. 28: People wearing face masks walk down a deserted street, the result of unprecedented travel restrictions in the city and other populated areas around it.
Arek Rataj/The Associated Press
Chinas response to the Wuhan virus is one of the largest-scale public health mobilizations ever seen, with tens of millions affected by quarantine measures. Here are some of the steps officials have taken.
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  • Cutting off Wuhan and environs: Chinas government suspended travel to and from Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and more than a dozen nearby cities in Hubei province. Even local public transit was shut down to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Extending the holidays: The initial outbreak coincided with the Lunar New Year travel season, one of the largest annual migrations of people on Earth. To slow down post-holiday travel that could spread the virus, China extended the holiday, known locally as the Spring Festival, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.
  • Banning the animal trade: Given the viruss suspected connection to a wild game and seafood market in Wuhan, the Chinese government has outlawed the sale of all wild animals in China until more is known about how the coronavirus crossed the species barrier.

The Globe in China: Nathan VanderKlippe on the outbreak
Chinas coronavirus lockdown is unlike anything seen before
Weeks before lockdown, Wuhan authorities used ‘refrigerating strategy to downplay coronavirus
At the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, Western medicine meets traditional Chinese remedies
As China markets plunge and virus continues to spread, Beijing praises Ottawa for calm
Where has it spread outside China?
1 to 910 to 99101 to 1000Over 1000 cases
Where has it spread in Canada?
Toronto, Jan. 26: Travellers wear masks at the international arrivals area at Pearson airport.
COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images
So far, there are only seven confirmed or presumptive cases in Canada, four in British Columbia and three in Ontario:

  • A couple who left Guangzhou on Jan. 21 and arrived in Toronto a day later. The husband, a man in his fifties, called 911 the day after his arrival and his travel history helped paramedics and hospital officials to take proper precautions. He was reported as a presumptive case of Wuhan virus on Jan. 25 and the diagnosis was confirmed by the national lab two days later; by Jan. 31, he was discharged from hospital.
  • A Vancouver-area man in his forties who travels to and from China on regular work trips, and had been to Wuhan some time before B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer announced him as a presumptive case on Jan. 28.
  • A London, Ont., woman in her twenties. Initially she tested negative for the virus because she had so little of it in her system, health officials said, but subsequent tests at the national lab in Winnipeg confirmed it was 2019-nCoV.
  • A Vancouver-area woman diagnosed on Feb. 4. She had been in contact with a man and woman who travelled in Hubei recently, both of whom were reported as infected by B.C. health officials on Feb. 6.

Before the first cases appeared, Canadian health officials had put airports and hospitals on alert for possible cases, introducing screenings at airports in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.
SARS: Whats similar, whats different
Toronto, 2003: A man adjusts his protective mask as he leaves the SARS Clinic at the Women’s College Hospital.
Kevin Frayer/The Canadian Press
On both sides of the Pacific, the Wuhan outbreak has brought back unpleasant memories of SARS, a coronavirus that also originated in China and killed 44 people in Canada. But while the viruses may be similar, many of the conditions that made SARS such a threat are less serious now.
The impact of SARS: After its emergence from Guangdong province, SARS spread to 8,098 people worldwide and killed 774 people worldwide, according to the U.S. CDCs estimates. Canada was the hardest-hit country outside of Asia: Over all, 44 people were killed in Canada, and 438 Canadians were diagnosed with probable and suspected SARS. It led to billions of dollars in economic losses as visitors avoided Toronto during what came to be known as the Spring of Fear.
Better preparedness: Canadian health officials learned a lot from SARS about early detection of infectious diseases, and many have expressed confidence that they are better prepared this time. B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry, for instance, noted before the first Canadian case appeared that officials already developed a test for the new coronavirus and had some idea of how it progressed, which they did not when SARS first arrived in 2003.
How the viruses differ:A study in the Lancet medical journal found some important differences in how the Wuhan virus and SARS spread and cause symptoms. In one family in Shenzhen, the Wuhan virus produced symptoms within four days of exposure, whereas SARSs incubation period is as long as 10 days. A shorter incubation period means that new cases of infection can be identified and quarantined sooner, reducing the spread of infection.
Timeline of coronavirus onset
Median time from onset of symptoms*
Onset of symptoms
Hospital admission
Intensive care unit admission
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Number of days
Shortness of breath
Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Shenzhen-based family visit infected relatives in Wuhan and return with illness
S
First sign of symptoms*
H
Attended hospital for investigation
Shenzhen
Wuhan
Shenzhen
Healthy family in Shenzhen
Visit infected family in Wuhan
Family return to Shenzhen infected
Dec. 26
Jan. 1
5
10
15
Patient 1: Mother
S
H
2: Father
S
H
3: Daughter
S
H
4: Son-in-law
S
H
5: Grandchild
H
6: Grandchild
H
Did not travel to Wuhan
7: Mother of patient 4
H
S
*Including fever (in 98% of patients), cough (75%), myalgia or fatigue (44%), and others.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: THE LANCET
Timeline of coronavirus onset
Median time from onset of symptoms*
Hospital admission
Intensive care unit admission
Onset of symptoms
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Number of days
Shortness of breath
Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Shenzhen-based family visit infected relatives in Wuhan and return with illness
S
First sign of symptoms*
H
Attended hospital for investigation
Shenzhen
Wuhan
Shenzhen
Healthy family in Shenzhen
Visit infected family in Wuhan
Family return to Shenzhen infected
Dec. 26
Jan. 1
5
10
15
Patient 1: Mother
S
H
2: Father
S
H
3: Daughter
S
H
4: Son-in-law
S
H
5: Grandchild
H
6: Grandchild
H
Did not travel to Wuhan
7: Mother of patient 4
H
S
*Including fever (in 98% of patients), cough (75%), myalgia or fatigue (44%), and others.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: THE LANCET
Timeline of coronavirus onset
Median time from onset of symptoms*
Onset of symptoms
Hospital admission
Intensive care unit admission
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Number of days
Shortness of breath
Acute respiratory distress syndrome
Shenzhen-based family visit infected relatives in Wuhan and return with illness
S
H
First sign of symptoms*
Attended hospital for investigation
Shenzhen
Wuhan
Shenzhen
Healthy family in Shenzhen
Visit infected family in Wuhan
Family return to Shenzhen infected
Dec. 26
Jan. 1
5
10
15
Patient 1: Mother
S
H
2: Father
S
H
3: Daughter
S
H
4: Son-in-law
S
H
5: Grandchild
H
H
6: Grandchild
Did not travel to Wuhan
7: Mother of patient 4
H
S
*Including fever (in 98% of patients), cough (75%), myalgia or fatigue (44%), and others.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: THE LANCET
Further reading
On the science
Ivan Semeniuk explains: New coronavirus tests scientists ability to tangle with an evolutionary trickster
Race is on as coalition sets tight timeline for coronavirus vaccine
A brief history of plague panic, from the 1600s to todays coronavirus crisis
André Picard
What Ontario didnt learn from SARS: During a public-health crisis, we need good information, clearly communicated
There is a new coronavirus on the loose, but we dont have to repeat the mistakes of SARS
Other commentary and analysis
Adrian Lee: For Chinese-Canadians like me, coronavirus is just the latest strain of infectious fear weve faced
Tony Clement: The coronavirus is now in Canada, but thanks to the lessons of SARS we are better prepared
David McKeown: Dont let the coronavirus mutate into an epidemic of fear and panic
Compiled by Globe staff
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With reports from Nathan VanderKlippe, Carly Weeks, Ivan Semeniuk, Kelly Grant, Andrea Woo, The Associated Press, Reuters and The Canadian Press