As of March 1, 2020–
- Globally, 87, 137 confirmed cases
- 79,968 cases confirmed in China
- 62 cases in the US
What Do I Need to Know about the New Coronavirus?
There are many types of coronaviruses, but the new coronavirus now traveling throughout the world and making people sick is called “SARS-CoV-2” The disease it causes is named COVID-19, which is short for “coronavirus disease 2019”. The following is key information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S, or. or the World Health Organization when noted.To learn more, go to CDC.gov or (WHO.int).
What are the symptoms COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus?
So far, it appears that most people (about 80%, according to the WHO) who get sick from the new coronavirus have only mild symptoms such as a fever, cough, and trouble breathing. However, some people can become very sick and end up with pneumonia, a serious lung infection, or suffer damage to other organs as well, such as the kidneys. Based on what we know right now, about 2% to 3% of all the people who test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These estimates become more exact as more people come down with COVID-19, allowing experts to learn more about the virus.
Image from CDC.gov
How does the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) spread?
A person infected with coronavirus may cough or sneeze, spraying tiny droplets of their saliva that carry the virus spray into the air. Anyone within about three feet may end up breathing in this “aerosolized” source of the virus, which can also enter the body through the eyes. The virus can live on someone’s hands for 3-5 minutes. When a person is infected with the coronavirus by someone else, that is called person-to-person spread. It usually takes about 5 days after someone is infected to have symptoms. (This is called the incubation period, the time when the virus is busy multiplying in the body.) Even if an infected person is not obviously sick, they can still spread the virus.
It is not clear yet whether people can become infected by touching a surface where the virus has settled. The virus can live on a surface for up to about a day.
How can I avoid catching the new coronavirus?
There is nothing anyone can do to be 100% sure they will not be infected with the new coronavirus. BUT you can cut back your risk significantly (and protect those around you) by doing the following things which protect you from catching any virus or bacteria. The CDC recommends that you
· Wash your hands with soap and running water. Do it for 20 seconds, the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. This doesn’t kill the coronavirus or other germs. It gets them off your hands. So wash hands when they’re visibly dirty, before eating, after you use the bathroom, after blowing your nose. No soap? Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
· Avoid touching your face with your hands.
· Get a flu shot. It will help protect you from getting the flu. The flu can weaken your immune system, so if you are infected with the new coronavirus, your Covid-19 symptoms could be worse.
· Stay away from sick people. In general, if anyone is coughing or sneezing, try to stay about 6 feet away. At the very least, stay more than 3 feet away.
More about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
If I have a fever with a cough, and trouble breathing, does that mean I have COVID-19?
Highly unlikely as of this writing. The risk for most people in the United States for COVID-19 is low, because the number of cases in the US is still low. If you get sick with a respiratory infection, the only way to tell if the new coronavirus caused it is to have a lab test. If you have been near someone who has come home from visiting China less than two weeks ago, or if you are caring for someone at home who tests positive for the new coronavirus, you are at higher risk of catching the virus. In either case, call your doctor right away to learn how to protect yourself, and what to do if you become ill. If you are a healthcare worker, visit CDC.gov for more information.
What happens if I test positive for the new coronavirus?
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor and your public health team will determine if you need hospitalization or if you should be cared for in the hospital. Most people identified with the virus have to stay home in a room away from other people. In this case, you will need to wear a mask to help those near you from getting infected, too. Any persons who help take care of you and those around you will need to wear masks for their protection. If your symptoms are serious – especially if it is very hard to breathe, if you cannot urinate, or if you feel very, very weak, call your doctor. You may need to go to the hospital for care.
Does wearing a safety mask prevent most people from getting COVID-19?
NO. Wearing a safety mask actually helps reduce the risk of infected people from spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When those carrying the virus cough or sneeze, the mask helps keep the virus from spraying to other people. It also protects people who come in close contact with an infected person, such as family members or healthcare workers.
Someone wearing a mask can still become infected because the new coronavirus
· is so small it can pass through most masks on the market.
· can enter the body through the eyes
· can infect the body if someone touches his or her face under the mask
How did the virus first break out in China?
While the virus was harbored initially in animals only, it has apparently changed its genetic makeup so it can now infect humans. Health experts believe that the first incidence of this virus originated in “wet markets” in the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China where raw animal products were sold. Because it’s a newly emerged virus, no one has immunity to it. It also takes time to “incubate” or grow inside an infected person’s body before symptoms appear. Therefore, the disease outbreak was not obvious in Wuhan until many people had symptoms, and COVID-19 had spread from person to person. Also, many people carrying the virus before the virus was identified traveled to other places in China and throughout the world.
Why is COVID-19 in the news so much?
Because this is a new virus that affects humans, virtually no one has immunity to it. The “epicenter” of the virus – where the virus originated and has affected the most people – is China. The Chinese government has ordered people in many provinces where COVID-19 has affected thousands to stay home. Many U.S. companies and many other countries depend on China for production of materials and products. Because so many factories in China have shut down, people around the world are worried that their businesses will suffer negative consequences.
Also, the virus seems to spread very easily. While most people don’t get very sick, those who are older with weak immune systems, and people who are already sick with diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are at risk of more serious symptoms if they develop COVID-19.
How many people have been infected with coronavirus?
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), and many health professionals across the globe have been monitoring the spread of the new Coronavirus.
As of this writing on March 1, 2020, about 88,000 people on all continents except for the South Pole (Antarctica) have been identified by lab tests as being infected by SARS-CoV-2. By far, the country most affected is China, with most of the cases, almost 80,000. It seems that about 2% -3% of all the people identified as getting sick from the virus have died. However, many people infected by this new coronavirus think they just have a cold; some don’t even develop symptoms. So the virus may infect many more people than we can identify. In a way, knowing that most people have mild symptoms is good. However, being unable to identify everyone who carries the virus makes it hard to actually gauge the size of its effect.
How worried should we be about getting COVID-19?
In the United States, at this writing, some 62 people have been confirmed as being infected with the new coronavirus. Two people have died, both with pre-existing conditions. In most cases, health authorities have been able to trace back to the person who gave them the infection. For instance, several people caught the virus when they were on a cruise ship. Others caught the virus while visiting China, or from people who had just returned from China. However, in one case thus far in Norther California, it is unknown how the patient was infected. This is called community spread. In other destinations, especially China, community spread of this newly emerged coronavirus is very common.
On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 a public health emergency of international concern. The next day, the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar declared a public health emergency for the United States to help the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.
Even though the infection rate in the US is very low today, CDC experts have said that it’s not a question of if coronavirus will spread, but when. Communities should be determining how they will respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.