Source : The Japan Times
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA/SEOUL – The World Health Organization cautioned years ago that a mysterious “disease X” could spark an international contagion. The new coronavirus, with its ability to quickly morph from mild to deadly, is emerging as a contender.
From recent reports about the stealthy ways the COVID-19 virus spreads and maims, a picture is emerging of an enigmatic pathogen whose effects are mainly mild but occasionally — and unpredictably — turn deadly in the second week. In less than three months, it has infected almost 78,000 people, mostly in China, and killed more than 2,400. Emerging hot spots in South Korea, Iran and Italy have stoked further alarm.
“Whether it will be contained or not, this outbreak is rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the disease X category,” Marion Koopmans, head of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, and a member of the WHO’s emergency committee, wrote Wednesday in the journal Cell.