Now to the current contagion, Ralph Baric, who studies emerging viruses at the University of North Carolina. “So it sounds to me like it’s something that’s jumped from animals to humans, slaughtering of wild animals and preparation of their meat can lead to the transmission of disease. The SARS virus came to humans from civet cats, eaten as a delicacy in southern China. Ebola outbreaks — there is no belief this is one — are often linked to bushmeat preparation”. The MRISA virus which was predominantly in the Middle East may have stemmed from animals like Camels. Both SARS and the current epidemic are Coronaviruses. 

Coronaviruses represent a wide variety of viruses present in animals that can in certain circumstances jump to humans. Contact with meat from various animals sold in Huanan Wholesale animal food Market in Wuhan has been established as the likely cause of the first reported human infections. This outbreak is caused by a virus — currently known as 2019-nCoV — that belongs to the same family as the viruses that caused the SARS outbreak and which cause sporadic flare-ups of cases of MERS on the Arabian Peninsula.

There was a 23-day gap between the 1st patient presenting and the Chinese authorities informing the WHO of the outbreak. As of Jan 28, confirmed infections within China climbed to nearly 2,750 and the death toll rose to 80.

Wuhan is one of the ports along China’s Yangtze River (6397km) with ships connecting it to Shanghai & Chongqing. It is also a major hub in China’s high-speed passenger train network. With a population of Wuhan more than that of London or New York, and the latest news being that China has confirmed that this newly identified coronavirus is also transmitted from person to person- there is cause for concern. Fact that the world's largest annual human migration now being underway in China in the form of the Chinese New Year does not help. Last year, close to 7 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad for Lunar New Year, according to state media. Currently, there are several verified cases reported in international media in countries other than China. However, all governments and supporting agencies are taking possible measures to contain the situation and ensure public safety. 

As precautions, there are a few basic steps you can take. Wash your hands and keep yourself clean, avoid public spaces as much as possible, buy a mask and follow correct direction HERE on how to use them if you do go to the public (there were some reports with wrong information on how to use a mask), don't panic and make sure your family members also get this message.

Useful links: 

Centers for disease control USA

Updated WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV