Coronavirus is a vast family of viruses that can cause diseases such as the common cold and even acute severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). China has recently had an outbreak of the disease, COVID-19. Its root is officially a new virus named 2019 New Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The scientist knows very little about this virus about the new illness. Major public health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States CDC, are monitoring the development of the virus and publishing the latest information through their respective websites. The organizations also issued recommendations on how to prevent and treat diseases caused by the virus.
Meaning: “Co” for “corona”, “vi” for “virus” and “D” stands for “disease”. The number 19, in the end, indicates the year of its appearance – 2019.
Origin: The place of birth
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the family of coronaviruses (containing a large number of viruses), which can cause benign diseases in humans, such as flu, cold, and more severe pathologies such as Sars. The contamination is of animal origin. The epidemic begins from a local market in Wuhan, China, where wild animals are sell. On February 7, 2020, scientists at the Southern China University of Agriculture identified pangolin as a “possible intermediate host” and suspect of having transmitted the coronavirus to human beings.
The pangolin is a small mammal fully covered with scales and threatened with extinction, whose delicate flesh is very expensive in Vietnamese and Chinese gastronomy. The scientists explain that an animal can carry a virus without being sick and transmit it to other species such as humans. After carefully analyzing 1,000 samples, scientists were able to show that the samples of virus sequences taken from pangolins were almost 99% identical to the viruses found in people with nCoV. As a reminder, during the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, the intermediate host of the virus was a civet, which is a small animal with a gray coat, the meat of which people eat in China.
In most cases, patients who have already developed symptoms are contagious. A few patients may be infectious before symptoms appear. To understand when patients are contagious, we need to know more about this new virus.
The average duration of incubation is six days, with a maximum period of 12 to 14 days.
The following factors may cause infection with the new coronavirus:
- Recently traveled or lived in China
- Have had close contact with a new coronavirus patient, such as taking care of a person infected with the virus as a family member or health care provider
Older people or people with other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are at higher risk of becoming infected severely with the new coronavirus.
What are the symptoms?
People with new coronavirus infection may show the following signs and symptoms within 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
The severity of symptoms of new coronavirus infections varies from person to person; some are mild, some are severe, and may even lead to death. The disease remains to be understood, but most of the severely ill patients are elderly or have other serious illnesses. This situation is similar to that of severe patients with other respiratory diseases such as influenza.
How is the virus transmitted?
Like all coronaviruses, the new coronavirus transmits between humans through saliva, droplets like cough, sneeze. It may also spread by close contact with patients like handshakes, and by contact with contaminated surfaces. Regular hand-washing approximately every hour and wearing masks help reduce the spread of the virus.
To determine if the sickness in a patient comes from a simple a coronavirus or a simple cold, the doctor can perform a nose and throat culture, or even a blood test.
In cases of suspected coronavirus, doctors perform a chest tomography to determine the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as other blood coagulation tests, biochemical analysis, and a blood count. Doctors also recommend Antibody tests and SARS virus isolation.
An evaluation to contain the transmission to those people who present the symptoms and who may be prone to contracting the virus.
Treatments: what are the drugs are for the sick?
There is currently no vaccine against the human coronavirus that causes a cold, but milder cases can be overcome by following similar steps as a common cold. It does not require medical intervention. Just wash your hands frequently, rest, and drink plenty of fluids; the symptoms will soon disappear within a few days. Doctors often prescribe painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower fever and relieve sore throats.
In cases of coronavirus MERS CoV, SRAS and COVID-19, hospital admission is usually convenient. Doctors give antivirals, high doses of steroids to reduce pulmonary inflammation and respiratory support with oxygen. In some cases, you may need antibiotics, but only if there are supervening bacterial infections.
In summary, Doctors use antiviral and supportive measures to treat these types of respiratory infections. The treatment is mostly adapt according to the seriousness of the patient.
Patient survival will base on the type of coronavirus transmitted:
- The coronavirus cold has a very high survival rate, and recovery is significantly possible.
- The SARS survival rate is high, between 9% and 12%of cases result in the death of the patient. Children have more life expectancy, as they tend to have milder symptoms.
- The MERS survival rate is less high, around 36% in mortality, as specified by the World Health Organization.
Covid-19 mortality is often high in adults. 80% of those who are dead were over 60.
Can masks prevent COVID-19? Which mask should I use?
We do not recommend masks for the general population.
People who are symptomatic and may have COVID-19 should isolate at home, and should wear surgical masks in the same room as another person and when seeing a doctor reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others.
Health caregivers who care for suspected patients should use appropriate personal protective equipment to avoid becoming infected with the virus.
Can a person be tested negative for COVID-19 and later tested positive?
Using a diagnostic test developed by the CDC (American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), a negative result means that no virus causing COVID-19 was present in the patient sample. In the early stages of infection, the virus may be undetectable.
For COVID-19, a negative test result on a sample taken when a person has symptoms may mean that the COVID-19 virus is not causing the current disease.
Does the package or product ship from China expose me to COVID-19 risk?
It is unclear what the new COVID-19 is and how it is transmitted. Two other coronaviruses (MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV) that have caused severe human diseases have appeared before. The virus that causes COVID-19 is more genetically related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are bat-derived beta viruses.
Although we are not sure whether this virus behaves the same way as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, we can use information from these two early coronaviruses to guide us. Generally, because these coronaviruses have a reduced survival rate on the surface, the risk of transmission of products or packages that transports at ambient temperature within days or weeks is low. Coronaviruses are generally most commonly transmitted by respiratory droplets.
Presently, there is no proof to support the transmission of COVID-19 related to imported goods, and there have been no cases of COVID-19 related to imported goods in the United States. The information will be made available on the 2019 New Coronavirus website as it becomes available.
What about animals or animal products imported from China?
There is no evidence from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that animals or animal products imported from China are at risk of transmitting COVID-19. It is a rapidly evolving situation, and data will be updated as it becomes available. The CDC, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play unique but complementary roles in regulating the import of animal products and live animals into the USA.
USDA regulates external icon Animals and animal products threatening agriculture, CDC monitors animals and animal products that pose a threat to human well being. And FWS regulation external icon Imports of endangered species and wildlife that may threaten human health and well-being, agricultural, horticultural or forestry benefits, and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources.
Will warm weather prevent the COVID-19 epidemic?
It is unclear whether weather and temperature will affect the spread of COVID-19. Other viruses (such as the flu and ) spread more during cold weather months, but this does not mean that it is impossible to infect these viruses in other months. It is unclear whether the spread of COVID-19 will weaken during warmer weather. There is more to know about the spreadability, severity, and other features of COVID-19, and investigations are ongoing.
How long can COVID-19 survive on the surface of an object?
According to the World Health Organization, it is unclear how long the COVID-19 virus can survive on the surface of the object, but the virus has similar characteristics to other coronaviruses. Studies have shown that coronaviruses, including a preliminary understanding of the COVID-19 illness, may survive on the surface of an object for hours or days. The survival time may vary under different conditions (such as the surface properties of the object, the temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think there is a virus on the surface of an object, clean it with ordinary household disinfectants to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. You can also clean your hands with alcohol-free hand sanitizer or wash with soap and water. Avoid touching eyes, mouth, and nose.
What are the recommendations to prevent infection?
The government has issued health directives to prevent CoVid-19 infection. These are also valid for all other types of respiratory disease:
- Wash your hands regularly;
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow;
- Use disposable tissues;
- Wear a mask when you are sick; its effectiveness has not demonstrated on non-sick people.
People returning from a risk zone (China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, South Korea, Iran, Lombardy, and Veneto regions in Italy) must, during the 14 days following their return:
- Monitor their temperature twice a day;
- Control the appearance of symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, difficulty breathing, etc.);
- Avoid contact with frail people like pregnant women, the chronically ill, the elderly, etc.;
- Wear a surgical mask when they are in front of another person and when they have to go out;
- Wash your hands frequently or use a hydroalcoholic solution;
- Avoid visiting places where there are fragile people (hospitals, maternity hospitals, accommodation structures for the elderly, etc.);
- Avoid all non-essential outings (large gatherings, restaurants, cinema, etc.);
- Workers/students: wherever possible, favor teleworking and avoid close contact (meetings, elevators, canteen, etc.);
- middle school students, high school students, and Children should not send to the nursery, school, college, or high school, given the difficulty in wearing a mask all day.
Six key reasons not to panic for the coronavirus
The Covid-19 epidemic linked to the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people worldwide, and 3,400 people have died. Throughout the cases, the researchers discover the peculiarities of this virus: symptoms, transmission, diagnostic tests, and tested drugs.
Here are six
reasons why not to panic in this situation:
Contagious, but not much more than the flu
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to that of the flu. And the primary treatment is supportive care and painkillers. If handled properly, this disease is easy to control and cure.
Mortality which could less
The numbers vary between 2 and 3% of death, It is lower than the rate of SARS, which was 10%, or of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), which is 30%, but much higher than that of the seasonal flu, whose mortality rate is around 0.3% and which kills 10,000 people each year.
The most reassuring information to date is that the new coronavirus appears to spare children. And when they got the infection, their symptoms are mild. On the other hand, 2019-nCoV proves more dangerous when it attacks the elderly or those already suffering from respiratory pathologies such as pulmonary infections.
The panic virus and misinformation
The lack of information and misinformation give wings to fear in general and, in this particular case, to the coronavirus. But there is something else. Many people continue to feel fear, or even panic, after receiving clear and rigorous information; for example, issued by the Ministry of Health or the World Health Organization (WHO). Why?
Reason – it is an ancient phenomenon. Whenever there is an epidemic or a terrorist attack, fear arises, and the novelty regarding other moments is virilization through social networks.
The increase in mobility, that is, the type of speeches that officials use to report epidemics, does not help calm the population. In this situation, some can stir fear for their benefit, to close borders with commercial interests or to curb immigration, or to criminalize a group by blaming it for terrorism or an epidemic.
As of January, Chinese scientists have deposited sequences of the virus genome on the GISAID website. Other international researchers imitated them a few days later, and there are now around fifty sequences available for free. According to the Institut Pasteur – which has published two complete courses – the different viruses analyzed are similar. In other words, the 2019-nCoV coronavirus did not mutate much. “Mutations do not necessarily increase the efficiency of a virus; they can also decrease them. However, this genomic stability remains good news since it should facilitate the development of treatments or vaccines.
No treatment available, but
The researchers also indicate that there is no treatment yet. And if vaccines and drugs are currently in the testing phase, none are validated.
For all these reasons, researchers continue to alert populations and public authorities to avoid the slightest misstep. Still, the fear caused by this new virus does not always seem justified, especially not when it turns into anti-Chinese racism, paranoia, or conspiracy theory.