Coronavirus Outbreaks
Editor's note: This article was updated and amended on March 4 to reflect changing circumstances since the print version went to press in early February. Information about the novel coronavirus outbreak is rapidly developing. For up-to-date information from the World Health Organization, visit WHO's website. Updated guidance from CDC is available online. AIHA's Coronavirus Outbreak Resource Center includes links to relevant resources from CDC, WHO, and other sources.

On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency from the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. Originally known as 2019-nCoV, the virus was first detected in Wuhan City in China’s Hubei Province and continues to spread. In February, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the virus "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2," or SARS-CoV-2, due to its genetic relationship to the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003. The official name for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is COVID-19.

The spread of COVID-19 is drawing comparisons to SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome, another recent outbreak caused by a coronavirus. The SARS outbreak began in China in 2002; no known transmission has occurred since 2004. MERS was first detected in 2012. Information about the SARS and MERS outbreaks appears below. Except where indicated, numbers are the latest available as of early February.
From "Shortage of Personal Protective Equipment Endangering Health Workers Worldwide," a WHO news release dated March 3, 2020:

“Based on WHO modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the [novel coronavirus] response each month. For examination gloves, that figure goes up to 76 million, while international demand for goggles stands at 1.6 million per month.”

CDC: “2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Situation Summary” (Feb. 3, 2020). CDC: “Frequently Asked Questions about SARS.” WHO: “Consensus Document on the Epidemiology of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)” (2003). WHO: “MERS Situation Update: December 2019” (PDF, 2019).

WHO: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation Summary (March 4, 2020). WHO: “Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Situation Report - 15” (PDF, Feb. 4, 2020).

WHO: “Shortage of Personal Protective Equipment Endangering Health Workers Worldwide” (March 2020). WHO: “Summary of Probable SARS Cases with Onset of Illness from 1 November 2002 to 31 July 2003” (December 2003). WHO: “WHO MERS-CoV Global Summary and Risk Assessment” (PDF, December 2016). The New England Journal of Medicine: “Hospital Outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (August 2013).

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In August, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a student intern and a researcher at Oak Ridge Associated Universities had devised an experiment to replicate the McCluskey incident in order to study the effects of radiation on the body. By irradiating vials of their own blood for different lengths of time, the researchers hope to generate data that clinicians and first responders can refer to following an exposure incident.

Read more from the News Sentinel.