Close entire university of Arizona campus to stop the Wuhan coronavirus

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Until the 21st century, the worst a coronavirus, a large family of viruses capable of infecting humans and animals, could do to humans was to deliver the common cold—annoying but hardly sinister. But three times so far in the 21st century, novel coronaviruses have emerged that could potentially cause a deadly pandemic—SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2003, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012, and now 2019-nCoV emanating from Wuhan, China. As of Jan. 26, the new coronavirus has reportedly infected at least 2,463 people and caused at least 80 deaths. Those numbers are certain to mushroom.

Controlling the spread of the virus requires both public health and medical measures—and for that we need a clear clinical profile. At this stage, that information is only just being put together, but what we do have is disturbing.

So far, the limited clinical information coming out of China means we know only about the mid-to-worst-case outcomes—from moderate to life-threatening pneumonia. Two studies released on Jan. 24—one about 41 infected patients and the other on a family cluster of six separate from those 41—provide both clues and concerns.