A new coronavirus outbreak emerged on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China, causing alarm among the medical community and the rest of the world. The name of this new species of coronavirus is “2019-nCoV”. That it made sick and killed many people in China. Furthermore, there are a growing number outside of China, becoming a global public health emergency and declared a “Pandemic” by the WHO.
Its mortality rate is not so high (2-3%), but its speed of transmission has led to the activation of protocols to stop its spread. This pathogen has the potential to become a pandemic, so it is vital to follow the advice for personal care, issued by the World Health Organization.
Introduction-Coronavirus-19 or COVID-19
In December 2019, in Wuhan, China, a series of pneumonia cases are, caused by a new coronavirus. This new coronavirus has different names: 2019-nCoV according to the WHO and SARS-CoV-2 according to the International Committee on Virus Taxonomy.
Coronaviruses are a very common family or group of viruses that affects both humans and animals. Therefore, it can cause different diseases in people, from a cold to a severe respiratory syndrome (pneumonia with respiratory failure).
The coronavirus bears this name because its appearance is very similar to that of a halo or crown. There are several types of human coronaviruses, which can cause simple colds. But in recent years 3 varieties have appeared, which have passed from animals and have affected humans:
SARS-CoV: The coronavirus that causes acute and severe respiratory syndrome (SARS) started in China in 2003. Its mortality was around 10%.
MERS-CoV: The coronavirus that caused Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Its fatality rate was 35%.
SARS-CoV-2: During December 2019, the first cases of severe respiratory infection were recorded. The cause was this new coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China. Since that date, there have been tens of thousands of cases.
There are more than 127,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide, in more than 100 countries and regions. In addition, more than 4,700 people have died, according to information from John Hopkins University. At the same time, more than 68,000 people have recovered from the virus worldwide.
A question is the origin of a certain animal in the transmission of said virus. But because of their similarity to bat coronaviruses, these are likely the virus’ primary reservoir.
The first cases of COVID-19 are related to a live animal market in Wuhan, China. This suggests that the virus initially passed from some animals to humans.
Some researchers believe the virus originated in bats, spread to an intermediate animal, and then to humans. Some researchers say the pangolin may have been the intermediate host.
Researchers from Peking University and the Shanghai Pasteur Institute have identified two main strains related to COVID-19. A more aggressive one, which is causing 70% of cases, and a less virulent one, which affects 30% of patients.
The first they called “type L”, which had great virulence and was more common at the beginning of the outbreak. While the second was called “type S”, with less dangerous effects for people.
How is the coronavirus transmitted?
The main mechanism of transmission of coronaviruses is from person to person, probably due to respiratory secretions. Infected people expel the virus when they cough or through their secretions, especially nasal and saliva. Therefore, it is important to stay more than 6 feet away from a sick person.
The coronavirus can remain for hours on different surfaces contaminated with these secretions. As a result, when touched, they can be incorporated into the hands. Therefore, it is potentially infectious for the person, if the same hand touches the mouth, nose and eyes. Above all, it is important to wash your hands frequently and not to touch your face with them, if you have been in public places.
Coronavirus-Is it very contagious?
COVID-19 appears to be a virus that has a high rate of transmission between people. At the moment, the WHO estimates that the rate of contagion (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, in turn, can infect 2-3 more people. To control an epidemic, R0 needs to drop below 1.
How long does coronavirus stay on surfaces?
A recent study in the United States found that it is feasible for the coronavirus to remain alive for approximately three hours in the air. Similarly, up to four hours in copper, 24 hours in cardboard and up to two or three days in plastic and stainless steel.
Likewise, once the patient has overcome the disease, the excretion phase of the virus from his body begins. This takes an average time of 20 days. A study suggests that prolonged excretion, to eliminate the virus, indicates that patients can still transmit Covid-19 at this stage.
See also: “What is Cold and Flu?“
Coronavirus Risk Group
The new coronavirus can infect people of all ages, although older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill with the virus, thus reporting a death rate of> 8 % in people over 70 years old. The majority of deceased patients were reported to have an average age of 56 years. Similarly, they suffered from other diseases.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that 1 to 2 men were infected for every woman. It is possible that women are more protected from viral infections, due to the extra protection that the X chromosome gives them. While the man lacks it.
For their part, children comprise a peculiar population, which has a different immune system than adults, so transmission of the virus through their mothers with suspected or confirmed infection occurs easily. However, lower severity and extremely low mortality have been observed.
Who is most at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying?
The American general public is at low risk of contracting COVID-19
Those who are most at risk of contracting the virus are people who live in communities with cases of transmission, health workers who have cared for patients with COVID-19, and those who have maintained contact with patients.
With the flu season, people at increased risk for serious illness and death are people age 60 and older. Also, those with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, according to the WHO..
Can coronavirus affect pregnancy?
It is still unclear how coronavirus can affect pregnant women. In general, pregnant women can have changes in their bodies that make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections.
There is no evidence that an infected mother can transmit the coronavirus to the fetus. In a limited number of recent cases of children born to mothers with COVID-19, none of the children has tested positive for the virus.
Can children get the coronavirus?
According to a WHO study in China, coronavirus in children appears to be rare. Only 2% of reported cases are people under the age of 19. An even smaller proportion in this group developed severe (2.5%) or critical (0.2%) disease. But, only one person under the age of 20 has died in China since February.
How to prevent Coronavirus?
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to do the following:
- Keep your family at home and away from other people as much as possible.
- Avoid sick people. COVID-19 can be contagious before a person has any symptoms. Therefore, avoid large gatherings and crowded places until the outbreak is under control.
- Because it is a large, heavy virus, if an infested person coughs or sneezes, the virus goes a short way (about 6 feet) and falls. So people, as a precaution, should have a minimum distance of 6 feet between them.
- Wash your hands well and often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use antiseptic hand gel with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching yourself with your hands, eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Use a household cleaner to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people touch a lot.
- Use disposable handkerchiefs or the crease of the elbow, to cover the nose and mouth, in case of coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid sharing glasses and cutlery, as well as handshakes or kisses.
- Cook meat and eggs thoroughly.
- As for the use of masks, they are not essential, unless you are infected or are in direct contact with patients who carry the virus.
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus-Covid-19?
Coronavirus symptoms begin similar to that of a common flu:
- General malaise
- Headaches and / or muscle aches
- Fever (usually above 100.4 ° F)
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal congestion (in some patients)
- Rhinorrhea (in some patients)
- Sore throat (in some patients)
- Diarrhea (in some patients)
- The loss of smell and taste are also quite common traits among those infected.
It is important to know that most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without the need for any special treatment. About 1 in 6 people who get Coronavirus-COVID-19 develop a serious illness and have difficulty breathing, and only in the most severe cases, the infection can cause:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- kidney failure, and even death.
The most serious cases generally occur in people who are elderly or who suffer from some other pathology, such as heart, lung or immunity problems.
Based on what was observed, they estimate that symptoms could appear in as little as two days or up to 14 days, after exposure to the virus. However, others suggest that the incubation period for the new coronavirus could be up to 24 days.
Is there a treatment for coronavirus?
There is no specific treatment, but some antivirals are being used that have shown some efficacy in recent studies. However, treatment consists of intensive care to relieve symptoms and, in severe cases, supportive treatment of vital organ functions, says the CDC.
According to the WHO, about 80% of people recover from the disease without the need for special treatment. For most patients, that means drinking plenty of fluids and resting, just as you would for a cold or flu.
Meanwhile, many research laboratories are currently looking for a treatment that eliminates infection with Coronavirus-COVID-19, either with drugs that are already part of the pharmaceutical industry and are used for other diseases, or looking for new, more specific alternatives for the virus. Since there is still no vaccine or specific treatment for this new virus. Although, if there are several vaccines and treatments, in development phase.
In mild cases or in its first state, the coronavirus causes symptoms similar to those of the flu or common cold. In these cases, the application of common anti-inflammatories such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are effective in treating some of the symptoms, but they do not attack the virus.
Disrupt the development of the virus life cycle
In general, most of the drugs against coronavirus, what they do is inhibit the production of certain fundamental components, thus preventing the virus from completing its life cycle. That way we have antivirals like:
- Chloroquine, which blocks the virus from entering the cell.
- Lopinavir / Ritonavir, which prevents cell reproduction of the virus.
- Remdesivir, which inhibits the synthesis of the RNA code.
But we must hope that scientific research confirms the efficacy of these antivirals against Coronavirus-COVID-19, since until now there is no fully effective treatment for coronavirus.
Therefore, the only official method of action available is the isolation of confirmed cases and the administration of assisted breathing in the most severe cases.
Broad-spectrum antivirals, such as Remdesivir, Lopinavir / Ritonavir, and Interferon Beta, have shown promise against the current Coronavirus-COVID-19.
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Coronavirus: United States
On January 31, the United States declared a public health emergency in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, prohibiting foreigners from entering the United States who have been in China in the past two weeks.
Following the WHO’s declaration of a pandemic, the President of the United States announced travel restrictions that prohibit flights from Europe to the United States, with the aim of preventing the spread of coronavirus. The restriction included the United Kingdom and Ireland in the list of countries with flight restrictions.
For his part, the director of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) told Congress that all Americans will have access to coronavirus testing and treatment, regardless of their health insurance situation.
The United States government also announced that the border between the United States and Mexico would close for non-essential travel, in order to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
On March 20, the Governor of New York pushed for a state order to stay home for all residents. This same measure was applied on March 19 by the Governor of California.
Previously, the governments of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California had ordered the temporary closure of gyms, cinemas and casinos in their states to reduce COVID-19 infections in the region.
Bars and restaurants can only accept take-away orders and make home deliveries.
On Friday, March 13, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, invoking the Stafford Law to allocate more than US $ 50,000 million of federal resources to assist local and state governments.
WHO is collaborating with international public and animal health specialists, clinicians, and scientists to gather and exchange scientific data to better understand the virus and the disease it causes.
It is certainly everyone’s job to contribute to stopping the outbreaks that have emerged in such a short time. For this reason, the general population is advised to follow all the recommendations to prevent contagion.