Last night, a friend sent me the following message, along with a graph showing how the number of new daily cases of SARS-CoV-2 was slowly tapering down in China:
Might be good to post a bit of positive virus news? I certainly think balance is a good thing on a blog.
Yes, balance is important, and I will admit my coverage of the rapidly-evolving epidemic has been rather dire lately. Trying to find an appropriate balance when reporting about a potential pandemic situation is very difficult. And I do apologize if it’s bringing you down.
However, I would rather be accused of being Mr. Doom and Gloom if it meant that even just one person reading my blogposts about SARS-CoV-2 begins to take it seriously enough to prepare—mentally, emotionally, and physically—for a pandemic.
While the news out of China is somewhat encouraging (if we can trust the figures being released by the Chinese government), the fact remains that China has had to impose some severe, even draconian, measures to get those results: restricting the movements of millions of people and confining them to their homes, shutting down public transportation and factories and markets and all public gatherings.
The question remains: are countries outside China willing to go to the same extremes in order to halt further spread of the coronavirus?
Ask yourself: if you were forced, right now, to stay home for two weeks, without leaving to go grocery shopping or to the pharmacy, how well would you be able to adapt? That is exactly the situation now being faced by people in various communities in South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Next week, next month, next quarter, it could be your town or city.
I’ve been writing about the Wuhan coronavirus for one month now, on and off, and my message has always been the same: prepare. Prepare now, before the majority of people who aren’t paying attention are caught unprepared when an outbreak happens near you, and the panic shopping begins, despite public announcements for calm.
So I’m sorry if I’m bringing you down, but as a H5N1 bird flu prepper from way back in 2005/2006, and as a science librarian, I see what what is happening now as a serious wake-up call.
Yes, we dodged a bullet back in 2005/2006, but I can tell you this: we aren’t going to be so lucky this time around. The H5N1 bird flu died out because sustained human-to-human transmission proved too difficult. But SARS-CoV-2 is proving itself surprisingly adept at human-to-human transmission. We have a sprightly virus on our hands!
The virus is already out there circulating and one day, it will be at your doorstep. Don’t panic, but prepare.
Good Sources of Information on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
Here is my updated list of good, credible, authoritative resources to learn more about the Wuhan coronoavirus (formerly called 2019-nCoV and now officially called SARS-CoV-2; the disease the virus causes is now called COVID-19):
- the United Nations World Health Organization
- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Personal Health Preparedness information from the U.S. CDC
- Pandemic information from Ready.gov (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
- Health Canada, including an FAQ and a fact sheet
- Public Health Canada
- Information for the Public from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England (U.K.)
- the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (new!)
- Public Health Ontario (Canada)
- Coronavirus Information for the Public (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control; see also this series of tweets)
- University of Chicago Medicine
- 2019-2020 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak (Wikipedia)
- Dr. Roger Seheult is posting short videos to his YouTube channel, explaining the medical concepts behind the Wuhan coronavirus in an easy-to-understand way
- Another instructive YouTuber to watch is Dr. John Campbell, a British nurse educator who very clearly explains what you need to know
- If you prefer to get your informtion via audio, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) has started a weekly half-hour podcast on SoundCloud, called COVID-19: What’s Happening Now.
- If you want a credible list of people to follow on Twitter, epidemiologist Dr. Ellie Murray has compiled a curated list of coronavirus experts that you can subscribe to.
If you want a quick, up-to-date overview of the current situation, here are three good places to check:
- 2019-nCoV Global Cases (by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University); other good statistics dashboards can be found here and here.
- Tracking coronavirus: Map, Data and Timeline by BNO News
- the Wikipedia article on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is constantly updated by an army of volunteer editors, and provides a good overall summary of the situation
Stay informed, get prepared, and stay healthy!