Coronavirus update


This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow) emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

Southwestern China erects a coronavirus ‘disinfectant tunnel’ and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) releases new images of the virus

The virus has now killed more than 1,300 people and infected over 60,000.

Amid concerns about medical equipment shortages, Chinese officials have revealed that six health workers have died and 1,716 have been infected with the virus since the outbreak. Zeng Yixin, Vice-Minister of China’s National Health Commission, commented: “The duties of medical workers at the front are indeed extremely heavy; their working and resting circumstances are limited, the psychological pressures are great, and the risk of infection is high.”

Elsewhere, in Chongqing, in the Southwest of China, an industrial company has built a tunnel intended to disinfect workers entering the facility – the ‘tunnel’ is equipped with infrared detectors that activate a spray from misters when a person enters.

In Japan, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato announced that those aged over 80 who had tested negative for the virus would be allowed to disembark from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, provided they stay in government-provided accommodation for the time being.

Meanwhile, the economic effects of the virus are beginning to surface. The airline and cruise industries are taking a hit as travel to and around the region of China halts. Singapore warns of a recession. And the Hilton hotels group has closed about 150 hotels in China (33,000 rooms), which is expected to impact its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by between US$25 million and $50 million, with a one-per-cent drop in revenue per available room. That’s assuming the outbreak lasts three to six months with an additional three- to six-month recovery period.

But at least some developments are moving us in the right direction, as NIAID releases new images of SARS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19). These can be seen below.

NIAID notes: “The images do not look much different from MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, which emerged in 2012) or the original SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, which emerged in 2002). That is not surprising: the spikes on the surface of coronaviruses give this virus family its name – corona, which is Latin for ‘crown,’ and most any coronavirus will have a crown-like appearance.”