The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that there's been a rise in harmful stereotyping and discrimination against certain populations because of the coronavirus. WHO noted that these actions can be dangerous, especially since they can encourage people to hide illness, discourage them from getting healthcare, or interfere with healthy behavior.
At this stage, preventing the illness may be as straightforward as practicing good hygiene like proper handwashing, and has little to do with avoiding some individuals because of how they look. Infection on a large scale has not yet happened, and the spread of COVID-19 has been relatively contained.
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has warned its citizens about excessive prevention measures in the United States and has suggested that Chinese citizens limit their travels to the US.
The United States has made travel to China more restrictive, and one consequence has been that officials from the Food and Drug Administration have not been able to travel to China to conduct inspections in Chinese factories. China supplies the United States with a variety of critical active ingredients for drugs that treat several illnesses, and shortages will begin to occur if the supply chain gets disrupted.
"There is a lot of reliance on China for antibiotics, and I worry about it for sure," former FDA compliance executive Steven Lynn told CBS.
As of today, 499 more cases have been confirmed in the epicenter of the epidemic, Hubei province, and only nine other cases in mainland China were reported. There have also been 71 more deaths. China is still the country with the vast majority of cases, with over 77,000 confirmed.
There are more cases in Italy's outbreak, and the number of infected individuals has reached 229. Seven have died there. Most cases are still in the region of Lombardy, and WHO has arrived to help them deal with the outbreak and prevent it from continuing to spread.
In Iran, there have been at least 61 cases and 12 deaths. CNN reported that an Iranian lawmaker has accused the government of covering up the real data, and has said that in the city of Qom, 51 had actually died from the virus. Iraq and Oman have each reported their first cases, all of whom were people that had traveled from Iran. Many flights to and from Iran have been halted. Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey closed the borders with the country, and the UAE has banned citizens from Iran from entering. Qatar has quarantined passengers coming into the country from Iran.
Preventing the virus from spreading is straightforward if infected individuals are identified and kept away from other people. Bruce Aylward of WHO said that in countries where infected people appear, they should "isolate the contacts” and not let them "wander around and restart the transmission chains." He added that locking down whole cities like China did was not required. “So I think the big message is: You can control this particular respiratory virus by using these measures. You don’t have to lock down cities is the big message from China in fact,” he told CNN.
There are now 53 people with confirmed coronavirus infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes 36 people that had been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three people that were evacuated from China. The increase since Friday is exclusively among passengers from the cruise ship.
Some of these individuals are being treated at the National Quarantine Unit at the UNMC/Nebraska Medical Center, some are at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Another six are at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease in San Antonio.
“The quarantine has been managed with great care by experts of highly trained professionals,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg at a news conference. “We have had a total of six positive cases to date, and every precaution has been taken to keep them properly isolated, ensuring that the chances of exposure for others is extremely low.”