China's Coronavirus Outbreak: What We Need To Know | WYPR

China's Coronavirus Outbreak: What We Need To Know

Jan 29, 2020

Metro riders in Taipei, Taiwan, wear masks against the threat of infection by the new coronavirus outbreak in mainland China. As of Jan. 28, eight cases of the disease had been identified in Taiwan.
Credit AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying

Today, an expert on infectious disease joins us to address the growing international concerns about the new coronavirus outbreak in China, and how the highly contagious disease could impact public health in the United States, and in particular, in Maryland.

The new pathogen, which epidemiologists are calling 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, was first identified this past December in Wuhan - the populous capital of Hubei province in central China - where officials say more than 6,000 people have now fallen ill. The contagion has expanded beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, with more than 150 cases reported in Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Vietnam.

So far,  just five cases have been identified in the United States, and just one is under investigation in Maryland.

Across the state, officials in health care, educational and other institutions with highly mobile international populations are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr. Lisa Maragakis runs The Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit.
Credit courtesy The Johns Hopkins Health System

Dr. Lisa Maragakis is executive director of the Biocontainment Unit at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the senior director of Infection Prevention with the Johns Hopkins Health System.  She is also an associate professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She joins Tom to explain what the coronavirus is, and what precautions are being taken -- and must still be taken -- to prevent its spread.