The outbreak of a novel coronavirus is ongoing, and there have been some clarifications and name changes as the virus has been more fully characterized. Previously known as 2019-nCoV, the virus has a new name: SARS-CoV-2, which is the cause of what's being called COVID-19 disease.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that is now testing the public health response of the world has been captured in images generated at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Hamilton, Montana. Microscopist Elizabeth Fischer created the images from a sample provided by RML investigator Emmie de Wit, Ph.D.
The virus resembles MERS-CoV, another coronavirus that emerged and infected people in 2012, as well as the coronavirus SARS-CoV, which caused outbreaks in 2002. Corona, which is Latin for crown, describes the spikes that can be found on the coronavirus surface.
More deaths from COVID-19 are being reported by China, where the number of cases continues to rise, and people are being told to quarantine at home as they return from holiday.
Conferences around the world are being canceled out of an abundance of caution caused by the spread of the virus. The largest mobile phone trade show, scheduled to take place in Barcelona this week, is no longer happening after many major participants pulled out. In San Francisco, Facebook's global marketing summit was called off, and IBM said it would not be participating in the RSA cybersecurity conference that is supposed to happen there from February 24 to 28.
China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Reuters that “The epidemic overall is under control." He added that "We’ve taken such complete prevention and control efforts, efforts that are so comprehensive, that I can’t see any other country that can do this.”
As of February 14, China had sent 217 teams made up of 25,633 healthcare workers to Hubei province, where the virus emerged.
Lunar New Year travelers took also advantage of refund offers made by authorities and limited or canceled their trips; around 20 million airline tickets were canceled. Rail authorities said that travel was down to one-seventh of what is typically expected.
Though there has been a robust response to limit the spread of the virus, the first death from COVID-19 has been reported outside of China. French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn announced on Saturday that an 80-year-old Chinese man had succumbed to the virus, and had died in a French hospital. While the vast majority of infected individuals are in China, 24 countries have now reported cases.