March 10 coronavirus news

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9:50 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Why CNN is calling the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent

Starting today, you will notice that CNN is using the term pandemic to describe the current coronavirus outbreak. It is not a decision we take lightly. While we know it sounds alarming, it should not cause panic.

So why now? The World Health Organization hasn't called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Nor has the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But many epidemiologists and public health experts argue the world is already experiencing a pandemic because of the novel coronavirus. There are now over 100,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths attributed to this new virus. In one day last week, the number of new cases outside of China, where the virus originated, was nearly nine times higher than the number of new cases in China. This virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica. In several countries, the number of cases continues to climb.

Some of those countries "have had sustained community transmission of a substantial sort," said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Put that together, that spells pandemic."

The specific criteria for a pandemic are not universally defined, but there are three general criteria: a virus that can cause illness or death; sustained person-to-person transmission of that virus; and evidence of spread throughout the world. The CDC says a pandemic is "an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people," while an epidemic is "an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area."

Read more:

9:48 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Can you recover from coronavirus?

Your coronavirus questions, answered

Absolutely. The vast majority of people with coronavirus survive. 

Last week, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimated the death rate is "about 2%." 

But the true death rate might be much lower, since some coronavirus survivors might not have been tested and might not have had their cases reported. 

9:39 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

The average age of death from coronavirus is 80, US surgeon general says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams has discussed specific data showing who is at risk of novel coronavirus. 

“People over the age of 60 are much more likely to develop complications from the coronavirus and to be hospitalized,” said Adams, adding that the average age of death from coronavirus is 80.

Children and young adults are more likely to die from the flu than coronavirus, Adams said at Monday's White House press briefing. He added that people should “be reassured by that.” 

However, he noted, even though young people aren’t at significant risk of dying from coronavirus, they could potentially spread it to people in communities and people with chronic diseases, reiterating basic precautions to prevent community spread, such as covering coughs.

9:37 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Novel coronavirus symptoms usually take 5 days to appear, study says

From Arman Azad

People infected by novel coronavirus tend to develop symptoms about five days after exposure — and almost always within two weeks, according to a study released Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

That incubation period is consistent with previous estimates from public health officials, and the findings suggest that 14 days of quarantine are appropriate for people potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has used that standard during the current pandemic — recommending, for example, that people self-quarantine for two weeks after traveling to countries with widespread coronavirus transmission, such as Italy or South Korea.

To estimate the incubation period, researchers scoured more than 180 reports of coronavirus in places without widespread transmission — areas, in other words, where infection was likely due to outside travel.

Because the study was conducted early in the coronavirus outbreak, community transmission at the time was limited to Wuhan, China. That allowed researchers to estimate the “time of exposure” to the coronavirus by determining when a person was in Wuhan — the only plausible source of infection. By comparing travel to Wuhan with the emergence of symptoms, researchers could then estimate an incubation period for the virus: usually about five days, and rarely more than 12.

It’s possible, the researchers said, that their study may have focused on more severe cases of the virus – which are likelier to make the news and catch the attention of public health officials. The incubation for mild cases, then, might differ somewhat.