Fears around coronavirus spread as illness reaches more countries


Countries that have coronavirus cases as of March 1, 2020.

Tension and fear rise in regions outside Asia such as the Middle East and Europe as global cases of infection and death from coronavirus – known as COVID-19 – continue to rise at an alarming rate. 

While the cases of the novel coronavirus appear to be moderating in China, the global count for confirmed cases of the virus and confirmed cases of death continue to rise.. However, according to the latest New York Times report, CDC officials are now “asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.” 

At this time, CDC officials are unsure whether the outbreak will be benign or serious. “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said in a statement.

The World Health Organization releases live updates on their website about initiatives taken to control the virus. It not only provides a structured timeline of the novel coronavirus, but also information on the latest developments in trying to find a cure and additional precautions citizens can take to decrease the risks of infection. 

On Feb. 25, a team of 25 international and Chinese health experts travelled to several different areas where the virus has spread. Their findings concluded that the peak of the virus was timed between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2, the number of cases of infection in China are steadily declining and the efforts taken by China have reduced the number of several cases of potential infections. 

In Italy, approximately 50,000 citizens have been on lockdown in 10 different cities to prevent the spread of the virus. There have been 374 new cases of infection and the death toll has risen to 12 –  Italy is the country in Europe with the highest cases of infection and death. 

 According to Angelo Borrelli, head of the Civil Protection Agency and the coordinator of the country’s coronavirus emergency response, between Feb. 23 and 24, the cases of infection rose rapidly from 152 to 219. Officers were stationed to monitor entrances at public locations, 3,000 beds were set aside at military bases, schools and certain university programs were shut down and the last two days of the Venice Carnival were canceled. The breakout of the novel coronavirus in Italy also resulted in a four percent stock market decline in Milan, which is regarded as  the economic capital of Italy. 

Bennett Graham is currently in Florence, Italy for a study abroad program with Kent State University. 

“The atmosphere hasn’t changed all that much as of now, just more and more people have been wearing masks while in public,” Graham said. “The people I know are actually thinking about the coronavirus seriously now, the school officials have been emailing us stuff as the situation develops.” 

In Iran, approximately seven governmental  officials have tested positive for the virus, including Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar. She has currently quarantined herself in her home, according to The New York Times.  The area primarily affected in Iran with the virus is Qom, an area south of the capital that houses study abroad students from all over the world and is even a spot for pilgrimage. 

As the cases of infection continue to spread on an international scale, citizens on a national and local basis continue to worry on what basic precautions they can take to stay safe. Although there have been a large number of reports detailing that infections are mostly seen in the elderly, students especially want to take the initiative to assist in creating a healthier environment for themselves and their peers. 

“The precautions for COVID-19 are the same ones that we should be taking to prevent the flu,” said Craig Klugman, a professor at DePaul University in the department of Health and Sciences. 

While some students are delaying their departures to return home in fear of being stranded in places such as Italy, some universities have shut down their programs, specifically ones that place students in the European province. According to Graham, universities such as New York University and Syracuse University have allowed their students to leave, however, the president of the Kent State program informed the students that national and local agencies have not recommended evacuation at this time. 

“No, I don’t want to go home. If this gets a lot worse and the school decides they have to [cancel the program] then I understand, but as of right now I have no interest in leaving,” Graham said.