Sydney Brummel – Staff Writer
According to John Hopkins CSSE, over 83,000 cases of the coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, have been reported worldwide. While the majority of these instances are located in mainland China, the new sickness has been found in other places, including the United States.
The CDC reports the symptoms of the 2019-nCoV to be fever, shortness of breath, and a cough. Very little is known about the virus and its mode of contraction, but it is known to spread via person-to-person contact at varying levels of contagiousness.
“In terms of symptoms, it looks very much like the seasonal flu,” biology professor Jeff Ploegstra said. “It can then progress into a lower-respiratory infection.” Of all the people known to have contracted the virus, most are demonstrating only mild symptoms. The elderly population, however, is most at risk of developing life-threatening health complications as a result of the virus.
In comparison to 2019-nCoV, The Washington Post revealed that at least 22 million people have contracted influenza in the United States. Out of that figure, 12,000 have died, as of February 7.
Among the student body, discussions have risen over the two illnesses. Despite the mysteriousness and clear threat of the Coronavirus, many students insist that the flu remains a pressing concern.
“In the beginning, I though that it [2019-nCoV] was getting too much attention, especially compared to the flu,” Myriam Kalmbach, a sophomore nursing major, said. “Once I realized how many people were dying from it and everyone who was getting it, I understood why.”
“From what I understand, the flu has more cases,” said sophomore nursing major Carlie Hoekstra. “But that doesn’t mean we should disregard the seriousness of the Coronavirus.”
While the comparison between the two sicknesses is understandable, Ploegstra encourages students to reconsider doing so. Influenza is certainly more prevalent within the United States, but it is still much more familiar than the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus.
“Why are we making this an either-or situation?” Ploegstra said. “We should keep caring about both of them.”
Overall, the flu has infected more people and resulted in more deaths than the 2019-nCoV this year. The former illness should certainly be taken seriously and treated with due diligence and precaution. The concern for the latter, though, results from its unfamiliarity and alarming death rate.
“The coronavirus’ death rate is very high compared to the flu, and we really don’t know much about it,” Ploegstra said. “It’s new. It hasn’t had the opportunity to impact the population as much as the flu.”
John Hopkins CSSE reports that out of the over 80,000 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV , nearly 3,000 have been fatal. This statistic, of course, does not take into account unreported instances and misunderstood deaths.
“Anytime you have something new crop up, you should give it its time,” Ploegstra said.
As experts continue to learn more about the coronavirus, students are encouraged to continue to practice good hygiene and be mindful of the symptoms associated with the sickness. At the same time, they should remain mindful of the concern over the influenza.