Quick reporting is crucial
On March 3, 2020, the International Journal of Infectious Diseases published a statement to evaluate the value of being transparent, bold, and unconcerned and neutral to the political forces in medicine.
In December 2019, Dr.Li Wenliang was the first to recognize what was happening in Wuhan. The Chinese doctor was the first to understand the future implication of the novel coronavirus. A 34 years old ophthalmologist, Dr.Li worked in Wuhan. On December 30, 2019, he noticed something very unusual. He decided to send a message on WeChat to privately share his concerns with his seven close friends he knew back from medical school. He has noticed several cases of acute respiratory illness in Wuhan; all these cases were related to the Wuhan Seafood market. As a result, local security officers reprimanded eight people, including Dr.Li Wenliang, for spreading rumors.
What happened later was just the beginning of unimaginable world’s tragedy and many unnecessary, unfortunate deaths.
The specimens were collected from first known cases and quickly sequenced by next-generation sequencing technique. By January 9, 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed that the new virus is not SARS or MERS. It was a SARS-like new virus which they named SARS-CoV-2.
On January 12, 2020, China shared the genome of the new virus on public medical website virological.org, seventeen days after obtaining the first specimen from Wuhan. Back in 2003, the delay in identifying a new pathogen was three times longer. It took six weeks to report the SARS-CoV outbreak to the global health community in 2003.
On December 31, 2019, the Word Health Organisation (WHO) received a formal SARS-CoV-2 report from China. One of the reasons China openly declared this new threat might have been informal statements being shared on social media. Since December 31, 2019, China was relatively transparent with WHO regarding the new pathogen and the number of infected people. Until February 13, 2020, the number of reported cases was comparatively low, suspected cases (not confirmed by the test) weren't added to the total amount. However, on February 13, 2020, the backlog of tested cases was added to the total, and the number of confirmed cases tripled in one day, reaching almost fifteen thousand confirmed cases. On February 19, 2020, China did another change in the methodology of the reporting of the COVID19 cases. The decision was made to exclude clinically suspicious but not yet confirmed by test cases. The total number significantly dropped that day.
WHO waited and waited and waited. Only on February 23, 2020, almost two months after China’s initial and formal report, WHO has finally reported a total of 78,007 cases, 2,462 deaths globally in 29 countries.
Late January 2020, Dr.Li Wenliang contracted Covid19 disease, he was hospitalized, treated in the intensive care unit, and died at the age of 34, on February 7, 2020. His name is now added to a long list of health care workers who died fighting outbreaks of SARS, Ebola, MERS, and now SARS-CoV-2. The health of medical workers is important. They are on the first line fighting for the rest of us. From late December 2019 to February 14, 2020, in China, 1716 health workers became infected by COVID19, and six have died. In Wuhan, almost 30% of infection transmission to healthcare professionals happened in the hospital.
The world is mourning 27 000 people. The world is mourning Dr. Li. The world is overwhelmed by the unfortunate death of 27 000 people (on the moment of writing 27.03.2020) in every corner of the globe.