UPDATE 2/4: (Johns Hopkins CSSE) 7:36 am: Death toll of coronavirus climbs to 427. Identified cases pass 20,000 worldwide although thousands more are suspected.
Despite China’s attempts to contain the lethal virus, it seems that all measures have proven to be ineffective, with the coronavirus being reportedly present in 4,565 people across 18 countries, five of whom currently reside in the United States with 100 potential cases being tested. It should also be noted, however, that none of the five live in the state of Texas; the student at Texas A&M who was assumed to have contracted the virus has been tested negative while tests for the student at Baylor University are still ongoing.
“The epidemic has entered a more serious and complex period,” said Dr. Ma Xiaowei, director of China’s National Health Commission.
Already, more than five million people had left Wuhan before travel was restricted. Nine million, however, still reside. Moreover, Hong Kong has shut its school system for three weeks and restricted travel from mainland China through suspension of high-speed rail services and half of its flights from the mainland to the region, declaring a citywide emergency. Shanghai, which has already been affected by the outbreak of the disease, says it is at a “key stage”, said Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong.
Economies worldwide are also experiencing a market sell-off due to fear of a global pandemic, with U.S. airlines being the biggest fallers on Wall Street and casinos operating in Macau suffering from the restricted travel recently implemented by the Chinese government. On Monday, the Dow Jones had fallen more than 400 points, the S&P 500 fell 1.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.1%.
“We think that consumption and travel will be the most affected, and to a lesser degree investment and industrial production. We also expect the Chinese government to roll out measures to stabilize growth, if needed,” said Oxford economists Tommy Wu and Priyanka Kishore.
To ease scare of the outbreak, on Sunday, Dr. Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, considered the risk to the general public to be low. “But the threat is serious,” she said.
In order to mitigate the misdiagnosis of the virus, the C.D.C. urges those who have not received the flu shot to get the shot. Furthermore, the C.D.C. plans to send test kits to state health departments to ensure speedier diagnosis of the coronavirus.
Outside of China, Thailand and Hong Kong have reported eight cases of the virus; the United States, Australia, Taiwan, and Macau have five cases; Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia each have reported four; France has three; Canada and Vietnam have two, and Nepal has one. At the moment, more than a hundred have died from the virus, nearly double the amount two days ago.
“The U.S. has faced multiple pandemics before of varying degrees and severity,” Messonnier said. “We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not.”