1. Origin of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus
The Wuhan Virus is called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus because it is a never before seen mutation of an animal coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 30, 2019. However, this name is only temporary. Another suggested term is “2019-nCov acute respiratory disease” which would comply with the World Health Organisation (WHO) naming practices. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses will soon decide on a permanent name for the virus.
The theory is the virus mutated and spread from an infected animal carrier (a bat, cat, cattle, camel, or snake) to humans that were in direct proximity. Once in the human cell, the virus began to replicate, causing the infection and triggering the symptoms.
As of now, a certain source of the outbreak is unknown. It is believed that the virus might be linked with a wet market (with seafood and live animals) from Wuhan that was not complying with health and safety regulations. The Wuhan wet market has since been closed down indefinitely.
2. Spread of COVID-19
When people unexposed to the animal market started getting sick, it was confirmed that the virus could spread from human to human. Much like the common cold, it spreads through airborne particles, surface particles, and close contact with infected individuals.
Since it was concluded that the novel coronavirus could spread from person-to-person, Wuhan was quarantined, but, unfortunately, the coronavirus spread outside the Chinese borders.
According to the World Health Organization situational report from January 30, 2020, there are:
- 80.000 confirmed cases in China
- 608 confirmed cases in South Korea
- 152 confirmed cases in Japan
- 140 confirmed cases in Italy
- 89 confirmed cases in Singapore
- 74 confirmed cases in Hong Kong
- 43 confirmed cases in Iran
- 35 confirmed cases in the Thailand
- 35 confirmed cases in United States of America
- 28 confirmed cases in Taiwan
- 22 confirmed cases in Australia, Malaysia
- 16 confirmed cases in Germany, Vietnam
- 13 confirmed cases in United Arab Emirates
- 12 confirmed cases in France
- Less than 10 in Macau, UK, Canada, India Philippines, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Cambodia, Egypt, Finland, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sweden
Globally, there are a total of 28000 confirmed cases, with 27 countries outside of China being affected by the novel coronavirus. Five thousand other cases are yet to be confirmed. On the bright side, the number of deaths is still on the low, with only 560 confirmed deaths in China, and about 1370 severe cases with a high risk of mortality. (5 February 2020)
3. Busted Myths about the Coronavirus
Even if the novel coronavirus has not been around for that long, there are already a bunch of uncertainties regarding the spread, treatment, and nature of the virus.
A. The novel coronavirus only affects older people.
It has been proven that the novel coronavirus can infect people of all ages, but, as with all viral infections, there are people with higher risks of contamination. Children, seniors, individuals with a compromised immune system, and people with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, liver disorders, asthma, lung disease, and other respiratory issues are vulnerable to becoming ill and developing severe forms of the disease. To protect ourselves and the people around us, we need to take the right preventive measures and be very mindful of our surroundings.
B. Family pets can spread the novel coronavirus.
As of now, there has been no case of family pets such as cats and dogs becoming infected with the novel coronavirus. So there is no evidence to back up this claim. But it is a good health decision to wash your hands after you’ve been in contact with a pet because there are common bacteria that can pass from pets to humans. Some examples are Salmonella and E. coli.
C. You can prevent or treat the novel coronavirus with antibiotics.
Antibiotics work against bacteria, while the novel coronavirus is a virus. So antibiotics will have no beneficial effects on coronavirus infections. However, people that are hospitalized for the novel coronavirus might get antibiotics to treat bacterial coinfections. You can have a bacterial infection and viral infection at the same time.
D. You can prevent or treat the novel coronavirus with homeopathic remedies or other specific medications.
As of now, there is no medicine/remedy proven to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. Vitamins might boost your immunity, but that does not make you immune to the virus. Potential treatments are under investigation and awaiting clinical trials in the near future. For now, more research and development efforts are needed to reach a viable, efficient treatment for the novel coronavirus.
E. A surgical mask is enough to protect you from exposure to the coronavirus.
Disposable surgical masks offer low protection against harmful particles. That is in part because they are not tailored to the face, so airborne contamination can easily occur. But that is also due to them not being used as they should. The majority of people will use the same mask multiple times or take it off for a short period of time, then put it back on, or touch their mouths/noses while wearing the mask. There is also the fact that if you tamper with the mask and don’t wash/disinfect your hands after, you are assisting the spread of harmful particles. But, if worn correctly, disposable surgical masks offer some protection (somewhere between 40-50%). For a more secure option, try N95 masks. These are fit tested masks made to perfectly seal off your mouth and nose, to minimize contagion risks. However, the N95 can’t be worn for extended periods as they constrict the amount of air you’re getting.
4. Three Corona Viruses Are Deadly
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – SARS
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, aka SARS, broke out in China in 2003. Total fatalities reached 774 with nearly 8,100 people infected. It is thought that civet cats were the culprit in infecting humans. Health officials believe SARS is under control.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – MERS
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, aka MERS, originated in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Infection is believed to come from camels. MERS has a high fatality rate of 30% to 40%, which is one of the reasons the World Health Organization has labelled MERS an immediate threat to global health. Nearly 1,500 people have been infected with MERS and between 300 to 500 have died. Fortunately, it seems the infection rate is on the decline.
Wuhan Coronavirus – COVID-2019 (aka 2019-nCoV)
Wuhan Coronavirus has infected thousands of people, the count as of date of publication (February 3, 2020) is nearly 6,000 since its discovery in late December 2019 and the rate may be accelerating. The death toll has reached 132. The fatality rate at this point is about 3%. For comparison purposes, the fatality rate of influenza is between 10 to 15%.
5. Types of Coronavirus
The severity of the human coronaviruses, can vary substantially between one type and another:
This variant of coronavirus corresponds to types 229E and OC43, which cause the common symptoms of a cold, although in the most severe cases they can also cause pneumonia in the elderly or in neonates.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
It is a serious form of pneumonia. It triggers respiratory disorder and fever over 38 degrees. The 2002 outbreak was pandemic with higher frequency in the East Asia.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)
This virus causes severe respiratory problems, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, although at first, it can be asymptomatic. In more severe cases, blood expectoration, diarrhoea and vomiting also occur. It first outbreak was in 2012, after which many cases have been reported in the Middle East, although it also spread across Europe and the United States.
The new coronavirus detected in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China shows a genetic sequence that resembles that of SARS by up to 80%. However, at first, it seems less virulent and with lower mortality. Instead, its transmission has been much superior and has already caused several thousand more cases than SARS.
6. Diagnosis of Coronavirus
To checkmate if the discomfort suffered by a patient comes from a simple cold or from a coronavirus, the doctor will decide to carry out a nose and throat culture, or even a blood test.
In cases of suspected coronavirus, a chest tomography is usually performed to determine the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as other blood coagulation tests, biochemical analysis and a blood count. Also, antibody tests and SARS virus isolation are performed as well.
Likewise, in order to contain the transmission, an evaluation is made to those people who present the symptoms and who may be prone to contracting the virus.
Temperature control (with thermal cameras and digital thermometers) of people arriving at an airport from affected areas has been one of the measures that have been put in place to detect possible cases of COVID-19 , as made with the previous shoots. Questionnaires are also addressed to travellers; in case of suspicion, they are lay open to evaluation and, where appropriate, transferred to health centres to be quarantined.
7. Treatments of Coronavirus
There has been no vaccine against the human coronavirus, but minor cases can be overcome by following the same steps as a common cold. This does not require any specific medical intervention; washing your hands frequently, resting and drinking plenty of fluids; the symptoms will disappear within a few days. Some painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can also be ingested to relieve sore throats or fever.
In cases of coronavirus SRAS, MERS CoV and COVID-19, hospital admission in form of quarantine and treatment are usually convenient. Antivirals, high doses of steroids are given to reduce lung inflammation and respiratory support with oxygen; sometimes, you may need antibiotics, but only if there are supervening bacterial infections, that is, superinfection.
Summarily, these types of respiratory contagions are treated with antiviral and supportive measures. The treatment is usually adapted based on the seriousness of the patient, since there are cases in which severe pneumonia occurs, but in others the manifestations are mild.
8. How the SARS-CoV2 Spreads
It is thought that the main route of transmission of the popularly known as Wuhan coronavirus is by air, through small drops that occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is probably also transmitted by close contact with body fluids of infected people.
Recent evidence suggests that, unlike SARS, which is transmitted only when the person had symptoms, this new coronavirus can be transmitted even before the onset of symptoms. If this is confirmed, it will be more difficult to control the transmission of this coronavirus.
The SARS-CoV2 has shown that it can be transmitted from one person to another with some ease. For now, the WHO estimates that the rate of infection (R0) of the virus is 1.4 to 2.5, although other estimates speak of a range between 2 and 3. This means that each infected person can, in turn, infect between 2 and 3 people, although it has been seen that there may be “super containers” capable of infecting up to 16 people. To control an epidemic, R0 needs to decrease below 1.
9. Protection Tips against Coronavirus
When sneezing, coughing or speaking, small droplets of saliva are emitted, nasal secretions that may remain on the hands, on the surfaces or dispersed in the air. Therefore, the virus can also be transmitted indirectly by touching the eyes, nose or mouth after having touched the micro drops or respiratory secretions from an infected person. Protective measure includes:
- Perform frequent hand hygiene for a minimum of 20 seconds (washing with soap and water or alcoholic solutions), especially after direct contact with sick people or their surroundings;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and then throw the used paper in the trash
- Shun close contact with people who show signs of respiratory condition, such as coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Keep a distance of one meter approximately with people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection;
- Not spit. If necessary, use a tissue and throw it away.
- Do not touch your face with dirty hands, especially the nose, mouth and eyes.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects commonly used in homes, offices and transport.
- Stay home when you have respiratory diseases.
- See a doctor in case of fever greater than 38 ° C, headache, sore throat and runny nose.
Additionally, these steps also protect against frequent diseases such as influenza.