The latest coronavirus outbreak (novel coronavirus) is a frightening epidemic that has many people in panic. This is understandable, considering that there are now over 24,324 known cases and 490 deaths.
But before we have an emotional reaction to those numbers, it’s important to first take a moment to think logically about the actual danger that this poses.
Because in reality, this is still a very small number compared with the population of the world, or even just the population of China. The condition is contagious yes, but not uncontrollably so. And likewise, it is not immediately fatal.
Here are the facts.
Firstly, coronavirus is not thought to behave differently than any other virus. Just like the common cold or flu, it is believed to be transmitted via airborne droplets. This limits the spread to people in close proximity to one another, and also makes it relatively easy to block with simple measures (such as a face mask).
Let’s imagine that you were travelling to the most at-risk areas of China. While this is no advisable (nor conscientious seeing as you owe it to other people not to contribute to the problem), it is also true that you’d be no more likely to catch the disease than you would any other cold or flu. Most of us manage to visit areas where flu is rife without expecting to definitely catch the flu.
The flu has resulted in anything from 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses in the United States each year!
So, while you might consider coronavirus to be very contagious, that doesn’t actually mean you are at risk unless you are living someone with the condition.
The other thing to remember is that coronavirus does not kill everyone that it infects – in fact this is only likely for those that are already at risk (such as the elderly or the previously unwell).