By: Anushka Thakker
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
The death toll has risen to 106 in China, with more than 4,565 cases of infection alone. Other countries in the region also are reporting more people infected — and nearly all of them are tourists from China.
Germany has also reported three new cases, and said they are all connected to the country’s first patient, a 33-year-old man who was most likely infected by a Chinese business visitor from Shanghai who he met at a company workshop.
Hong Kong announced dramatic measures to stem the flow of mainland Chinese into the territory, closing two railways, ferries and cross-border tour buses. Flights to mainland China will be slashed by half, and individual visas to Chinese will no longer be issued, starting Thursday. United Airlines suspended some flights from the United States to China after demand dropped.
Aidan Ching, a senior and an avid traveller of the Hong Kong region, describes his fear. “I got back from Hong Kong and was coughing a lot and was really scared that I had the coronavirus. In the end it turns out that I was sick from a sore throat. I was so relieved.”
Nikhil Patel, another avid fan of China, is also scared of this outbreak. “What if we all die?” ponders Patel, “then I wouldn’t be able to attend MIT.”
In the end, all one can do is hope.