Brock University Expert Says Coronavirus Could Be Next SARS Pandemic

“It’s a respiratory infection with a virus apparently new to humans, which has shown capacity for person-to-person transmission through direct contact with respiratory secretions.” – Eduardo Fernandez, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences, Brock University


News from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted January 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – As reported cases of the Novel coronavirus in China and other east-Asian nations fuel global fears, a Brock University expert says specific factors could influence further transmission.

With the number of reported cases exceeding 600, including at least 18 deaths, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Eduardo Fernandez, a global health expert, says the current outbreak must be carefully analyzed.

“The 2019 Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has the potential to become a pandemic just like SARS in 2003,” he says. “Any disease with the potential to extend to several regions of the world must be monitored closely, especially if it’s causing mortality like this one.”

While the current outbreak of the Novel coronavirus is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with no confirmed cases currently in Canada, Fernandez says there are several factors which make it dangerous.

“It’s a respiratory infection with a virus apparently new to humans, which has shown capacity for person-to-person transmission through direct contact with respiratory secretions,” he says. “This mode of transmission requires both social distancing as well as intensified hand hygiene. The fact that it is occurring in an area with a very intense trade exchange is of concern, since exchange of people and products can amplify the possibility of more cases in the Pacific Rim.”

Though measures have been taken to quarantine the city of Wuhan, Fernandez says upcoming celebrations could prove to be problematic.

“The celebrations of the new Chinese year could represent an additional risk of population movement in areas with active transmission,” he says. “The first cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan were timely reported to the World Health Organization in late December 2019, so we are in the first weeks of transmission expansion.

A map of confirmed cases of the virus, as of January 22, 2020

“If we take SARS as an example, we can expect more cases in the upcoming months. Taking precautions at the individual level would help decrease the risk of infection.”

A Footnote from Ninagara At Large –

Statistics compiled by  the World Health Organization show that there were at least 200 diagnosed cases of SARS in Canada between November 2002 and August 2003. A total of 41 deaths were reported in Canada during that period of time.

In the United States, WHO stats for that period show zero deaths, which seems surprising, and 26 reported cases of the virus.

If someone out there has different figures, please feel free to share them, along with the name of the group or organization that compiled them,  in the comment space below.

To read a recent story in the New York Times on China’s government that this deadly virus can be transmitted person to person, click on –

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One response to “Brock University Expert Says Coronavirus Could Be Next SARS Pandemic

  1. Another scary factor ….. hallway medicine and overcrowding.
    Maybe we won’t have to worry about climate change after all.
    The Spanish flu in 1918 infected 500 million and killed approximately 50 million. The world population then was 1.8 billion. Now it is 7.8 billion. Seven times as many people in the same amount of space and now with easy global transportation.
    Figure the odds.


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