The outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019 n-CoV) has sparked much controversy and panic. However, there may be some cause for optimism as the first consecutive decline in new 2019 n-CoV cases has been reported in recent days.
Between February 5th and February 7th, the number of new cases reported dropped day-by-day. 3,900 2019 n-CoV cases were reported on February 5th; 3,700 were reported on February 6th; and 3,200 were reported on February 7th.
“Over the last two days we have actually seen the first of two consecutive declines in the number of new cases, which is nice, but whether that is sustainable or not we will only know in about a week or so,” commented Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine in the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom in The Guardian. “The infection, like most droplet-spread infections, tend to spread more in winter than in summer, so it’s quite plausible that even if the spread does continue, at least in the northern hemisphere we will see a decline during the summer.
“The big question then will be whether it reappears in November as we move into the traditional flu seasons where these sorts of viruses … tend to predominate.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a tweet that it “is convening a global research and innovation forum to mobilise international action” in response to the 2019 n-CoV outbreak. This, the WHO said, “will bring together key players” including leading scientists, public health agencies, ministries of health and research funders. They will “[pursue] critical…animal and public health research and the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, among other innovations” in a bid to bring 2019 n-CoV cases under control.
“Experts will build on existing SARS and MERS coronavirus research and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities in order to accelerate scientific information and medical products most needed to minimize the impact,” the agency added. “The meeting is expected to produce a global research agenda for the #2019nCoV, setting priorities and frameworks that can guide which projects are undertaken first.”
Cautious optimism has been urged by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Acknowledging the drop in new 2019 n-CoV cases to be “good news”, he nonetheless said that “the numbers could go up again.” He additionally noted that “there are some countries who have yet to send detailed case reports to WHO. We urge those member states to share that information immediately.”
India is among the countries to have reported 2019 n-CoV cases, with three being confirmed in the state of Kerala where a state of emergency has been declared.
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan today presented updates to the Rajya Sabha. He reported that 1,275 flights have been screened for coronavirus so far, covering 139,539 passengers. As many as 150 passengers displaying n-CoV symptoms have been referred to isolation wards. A group of ministers has been convened to monitor the situation at the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is “personally monitoring” the situation according to Vardhan.