Health Affairs   |  February 3, 2020

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On December 31, 2019, China informed WHO of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, now designated as “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” (2019-nCoV). It is also commonly referred to in the press as simply, coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that include SARS, MERS, and the common cold. Since that time, it has spread to four continents and every WHO region, with more than 20 countries reporting travel-related cases, including the United States. Person-to-person transmission has been reported in at least five of these countries, including multiple cases in Germany, and one in the United States. As February began, the number of deaths exceeded 250, with the vast majority in Hubei and all, so far, in China. More than 11,000 cases had been confirmed – more than SARS – though the true figure is likely many tens of thousands, at least. The sheer geographic spread and trajectory of cases ensures that 2019-nCoV will greatly exceed that of SARS.

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