By now you have heard about the Coronavirus, currently classed as “COVID-19” by WHO (World Health Organization”) and it’s effects in China, as well as, outside of China. Unfortunately, over 90,000 people have been affected and over 200 deaths confirmed [Update: as of February 15, 2020, over 1400 deaths have been reported]. There are many people unable to seek medical attention due to shutting down of public transportation and lack of medical manpower to aid the sick who have flooded many hospitals all over China. The fact that this outbreak started over a month ago (around mid December 2019) has increased it impact dramatically, as the general public were not made aware and prepared for such a crisis. Plus, millions of people had left China to their various destinations all over the world, especially being that it was holiday season…Christmas followed by the Chinese New Year celebration. Also, the fact that people were not made aware on the international scale of things until mid January 2020, makes a not so good prognosis for containment. All amounting to a big prescription for trouble, as people travel the world over and it just takes one to infect over 10 or more people, even when the infection is transmitted to just one people, as that one person can come in contact with at least 1 or more people within the space of a 24 hour period. This can repeat over and over as people move around in their day to day affairs from work to home, family gatherings, dinner parties, running errands, etc. This in turn can create an epidemic. Epidemics often result in mass panic and reactive and overreacting measures being taken, so here is where we discuss the coronavirus and what you need to know.
So, what exactly is the Coronavirus and where did it come from?? On November 16, 2002 up through July 2003, China suffered a devastating blow from the SARS Virus (otherwise known as “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome”). With over 700 lives lost to this Coronavirus and over 8,000 people in China infected, over a decade and a half later, another form of Coronavirus has surfaced.
First of a brief history on SARS. The SARS Virus is a type of Coronavirus that affects the respiratory system and to put it simply, it results in a rapid onset of severe respiratory issues that then develop in a severe form of pneumonia and often results in death. Symptoms include cough, fever, headache, pain throughout the muscles. Within a 14 day period, respiratory issues follow in the form of coughing, trouble breathing, and pneumonia. SARS first surfaced in the Guangdong Province of China that borders Hong Kong. Corona viruses are a family of contagious viruses that have circulated within the animal kingdom, as well as, in humans, respectively. Unfortunately, there a recent corona virus strains that are capable of being transmitted from animals to humans resulting in epidemics such as SARS and the most recent Corona Virus spreading throughout China.
Sneezing and coughing disperses infection into the air and anyone nearby can become infected when they breathe in those infected droplets. Infection can also happen from coming into contact with droplets through touch, i.e. infected droplets landing on your skin and or touching a surface contaminated with infected droplets.
Coming into contact with bodily fluid of someone who has been infected can also transmit infection…tears, eye mucus, nasal dripping, blood, and other bodily fluids are vectors of transmission. Those who are 60 and beyond are heavily impacted by infection with Coronaviruses and often succumb to it resulting in death.
The Coronavirus now present in China Emerged in the Wuhan Province is much worse than it predecessor SARS Corona and has claimed many lives (over 255 as of January 2020) and indiscriminate when it comes to age – the young, middle aged, and old have all been among the numerous lives claimed so far. It is also, much, much worse than the SARS Coronavirus in that there may be NO symptoms whatsoever present in an infected person and the could go on to transmit the virus onto others and or end up dead. In the best case scenario, the infected person though presenting no symptoms, may end up in a medical emergency that may result in them getting treatment in the nick of time. The Corona virus currently spreading through China is also spreading at a much, much faster rate than its predecessor SARS, which is most certainly reason for concern. A person may appear to be well one minute and then dead the next.
Other possible symptoms of the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) include chills, sore throat, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, and kidney failure.
Among the countries touched by this outbreak outside of China are Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Australia, France, USA, and several others. This outbreak is certainly not to be taken lightly and is proving to be a global emergency.
How You Can Stay Safe
The very obvious and highly doable solution (…besides avoid travel to China) is to limit contact in public settings that allow close contact with people from all walks of life…from the avid traveler to the local sports enthusiast…. So, if and when you must venture out, make sure to protect yourself as much as humanly possible.
Medical masks are a good start, but N95 rated masks (protects against non-oil articles) and even p95 masks (protects against oil and non-oil based particles) are the best options. But do keep in mind that although masks are good at prevention, they may not provide all the protection you need as the Coronavirus can infect through infectious droplets or fluid coming in contact with skin.
So, if someone who is infected coughs or sneezes in your direction, there is a possibility of becoming infected if droplets land on exposed skin. Face masks only cover half of skin exposed on your face, so if daring to travel in high risk areas, googles and face shield, as well as, head cover for hair and neck will prove more effective.
Also, wearing long sleeves and limiting exposure of skin is helpful in preventing infection or at least limit direct contact with skin, along with the use of medical gloves. Do keep in mind though, that unless you plan to be decked out from head to toe in hazmat gear, the possibility of being infected when in contact with a symptomatic or asymptomatic infected person is still present, so keep that in mind and limit travel and social occasions, especially if living in affected areas.
Those who may be infected or may have come into contact with someone who is infected are advised to quarantine themselves for 14-days during which they will log changes in symptoms or condition. For more details on how the Coronavirus can infect the body and affect those infected, read this article published by National Geopgraphic.
Based on blood work and various tests or screening performed, anyone testing positive for the Corona Virus can receive some form of care from hospitals; though limited. Most patients based on the severity of their symptoms presented and or their condition are often sent home and told to isolate themselves and “ride out” the phases of the illness. However, severe cases result in quarantined hospitalization with a variety of treatments for the symptoms presented (one of which can be walking pneumonia).
To date, in the case of the USA, the first present case of the Corona Virus was said to have been treated with an experimental antiviral medication, Remdesivir – the same antiviral treatment used in treating the Ebola Virus, MERS-Coronavirus, Lassa Fever Virus (which is unfortunately claiming many lives [over 250 deaths] all over Nigeria), and a few other viruses.
Make it a point of erring on the side of caution when it comes to dealing with contagious diseases and infections and protect yourself as much as humanly possible. There are currently shortages in protective gears such as medical mask, respiratory, n95 masks, and even non toxic dust masks with online shopping avenues such as Amazon – yes even Amazon can’t keep these in stock for long, so you best bet is a box store hopefully near by you, but chances are they are out of stock. Due to this medical crisis you may have to resort to making your own facial mask (something is better than nothing), but if you do find an online vendor, depending on the type of protective face mask you are seeking, do proceed with caution as influxes of counterfeit products surge during such global emergencies. Stay well and keep this issue and others in your prayers. God Bless.