NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The Center for Disease Control is screening hundreds of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China – believed to be the epicenter of the so-called coronavirus. It has already killed three people with hundreds more infected.
“We know very little about this,” says Associate Professor Xi Chen with Yale School of Public Health, a house policy researcher monitoring the emerging virus closely.
Some cases he says, are linked to a seafood market in Wuhan.
“I think the worrisome news is that it keeps changing,” Chen explained.
Already he says – doctors and nurses treating patients are contracting the new virus.
“I think there’s a high chance that this is a virus that could be human-to-human transmission now,” says Chen.
No confirmed cases in the U.S., but with globalization, the fear is that could change quickly. This week, millions in Asia traveling for the Lunar New Year. That travel could spread the virus.
Symptoms of the coronavirus are similar to the common cold, flu or pneumonia.
Are antibiotics effective? Chen says, ‘That could be helpful for certain groups of people, but not for the vulnerable population.” Most vulnerable? The elderly and the young.
Chen says clusters of people in China have been quarantined.
The coronavirus he says is similar to SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, another deadly outbreak in China, infecting thousands worldwide in 2003.
Xi Chen says that China is sharing important information such as the gene sequence of the virus. The hope is — transparency will lead to developing a much needed vaccine.
Doctors right now are focused on treating the symptoms. Preventing a major outbreak is a priority.