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Coronavirus: Track the virus' spread with this world map tool
The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) created an online dashboard map that provides up-to-date data on reported cases and deaths worldwide.
- A new strain of coronavirus has spread from China to at least 19 countries, including the U.S. You can track the spread on this Johns Hopkins map.
- It remains unclear how bad the outbreak will become, but the World Health Organization has stopped short of calling it a global health emergency. (Update Jan. 30 2020: The WHO has declared a global emergency)
- The new coronavirus is less deadly but more contagious than SARS.
A new strain of coronavirus has killed more than 130 people and infected over 6,000 others as of January 29. So far, all deaths have occurred in mainland China, but the virus has spread to other countries, including the United States, Thailand, Germany, Canada, France, Singapore, South Korea, and Australia.
In dozens of nations, officials are taking precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus, called 2019-nCoV, which is in the same family as the common cold and the SARS virus. It's currently unclear how bad the outbreak will become.
To track the spread of the virus, the The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) created an online dashboard map that provides up-to-date data on reported cases and deaths worldwide. You can check it out here.
Visualization: JHU CSSE
"We built this dashboard because we think it is important for the public to have an understanding of the outbreak situation as it unfolds with transparent data sources," said Lauren Gardner, a civil engineering professor and CSSE's co-director. "For the research community, this data will become more valuable as we continue to collect it over time."
Gardener said it's "critical" to provide researchers with this data, which is being compiled from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China, and Dingxiangyuan, a social networking site for health-care professionals. The dashboard allows anyone to download a Google Sheet containing data on all reported cases, locations, and deaths.
How bad will the outbreak be?
The answer depends largely on two factors: how deadly the virus is, and how easily it's transmitted from person to person.
Currently, the new strain of coronavirus has killed 2 to 3 percent of those infected, but that fatality rate is likely to change as the strain mutates. For comparison, the fatality rate for SARS was about 14 to 15 percent in 2003. But the new coronavirus seems to be more contagious than SARS. One reason is that infected people can go about 10 days without symptoms, making it easier for the virus to spread because infected people aren't aware they're contagious.
It's still the early stages of the outbreak, however, and the exact incubation period for 2019-nCoV remains unclear. Researchers are busy trying to determine how far, and how quickly, the virus might spread. That requires using a metric called the basic reproduction number, called "R naught" or R0.
This number represents how many people one infected individual is likely to get sick, and epidemiologists use it to estimate how contagious a virus is likely to be. So, for example, an R0 of 3 means each person with the virus infects about three other people. Higher R0s tend to mean worse outbreaks.
Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak
But it's important to note that R0 is an average, meaning that some infected people might never spread the virus to a single person, while others might spread it to many. What's more, R0 depends on how susceptible an individual or population is to a virus, the nature of the virus, and the measures a community takes after an outbreak. Some people might become infected but remain perfectly healthy. In short, R0 is a useful but rough measure of the potential transmissibility of a virus.
The R0 of the new strain of coronavirus remains unclear, but estimates range from 1.4 to 5.5, and most fall between 2 and 3. So far, the World Health Organization has voted not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, mainly because it hasn't significantly spread beyond China. But that could change if international cases keep popping up.
Some think it's past time to label this outbreak as an international emergency.
"The fact that there are cases now in so many countries and that it is spreading fast is of international concern," Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Financial Times. "I do not know what more they need."
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
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