What Is The Novel Coronavirus, And How Does It Spread?

Overview

Coronavirus. A name, now infamously known to everyone and circling on millions of tongues around the world.

The global pandemic that has started due to this novel coronavirus, is not a secret to a single soul, yet so many people still don’t inform themselves on the facts and the proper details of this worldwide phenomenon.

Today, we discuss: what the novel coronavirus is, how it emerged, how it affects the human body, symptoms, possible cures, and more.

What Is The Novel Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses in general, have been around and infecting humans for a long time, eons to be exact. They are among the many viruses that cause the common cold but are also sometimes responsible for more serious and deadly illnesses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that broke out in 2012, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that broke out between 2002 and 2004.

The most recent coronavirus discovered, is the one we all know too well that causes the new corona disease – COVID-19.  

Coronaviruses got the name corona – meaning “crown” in Latin – because of their crown-like shapes. They have round forms and are surrounded by a halo of spiky proteins, giving them the appearance of a crown.

What Is COVID-19?  

The novel coronavirus, dubbed by specialists the 2019-nCoV, is responsible for the 2019 outbreak of the new disease, COVID-19.

Just like its predecessor viruses that started the MERS and SARS pandemics, COVID-19 is categorized as a respiratory illness.

This means, that the virus attacks the human respiratory system and affects the organs including the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs.

How Did The 2019-nCoV Emerge?

The first infected cases with the novel coronavirus, unknown and undiscovered, were first spotted in Wuhan, China. The outbreak started there in December 2019, and as of today (27th of April 2020) has infected 2.99 million people worldwide, of which 876,000 have recovered. 

How Deadly Is COVID-19?

According to the WHO “Most people (about 80% ) infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.”

What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?

Most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue

In some cases, patients might experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, sore throat, or diarrhea.

These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Around 80% of people who contract the virus are able to recover without any special treatment, however, the virus can become very serious and cause more severe symptoms in older people and/or patient’s with underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer.

Some severe symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Rarely diarrhea

People with mild symptoms such as a slight cough or a mild fever, who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.

People with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.

 How Does COVID-19 Spread?

The disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.

People with mild symptoms can spread the virus as well.

Because the infected droplets are heavy, after they are expelled, they quickly sink to the floor or the surface of other objects. People can contract the virus by touching the infected areas with their hands, and then touching their mouths, noses, or eyes.

This is why the WHO recommends washing your hands regularly with soap and water or cleaning them with alcohol-based hand rub.

What Should I Do If I Develop Symptoms/Come In Close Contact With Someone Who Has Contracted The Virus?

If you develop symptoms and/or come into close contact of less than 1 meter from those who have the disease, you may be infected and it’s best to stay at home.

  • If your symptoms are very mild, but you don’t think you could have been exposed to a person with the disease, you must still self isolate as the virus can spread even during the early stages of the disease and when the host is showing only mild symptoms.
  • If you do not have symptoms but have been exposed to an infected person, self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • If you develop severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and fever, seek immediate medical care. When arriving at your care facility, wear a mask, keep at least 1 meter distant from other people, and do not touch surfaces with your hands.

How Long Does The Virus Last On Surfaces Of Objects?

Researches have confirmed, that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper, and less than 24 hours on cardboard.

The easiest way to kill the viruses on the surfaces is to clean them with common household disinfectants.

Also, it is vital to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rubs, and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

How Is COVID-19 Diagnosed?

Diagnosis may be difficult with only a physical exam because mild cases of COVID-19 may appear similar to the flu or a bad cold. A laboratory test can confirm the diagnosis.

The test is conducted by swabbing the inside of the person’s nose with a skinny swab that is long enough to reach the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat, behind the nose.

The samples are then shipped to laboratories or on-site testing labs, to be examined.

The results are then reported to the doctor and the patient.

Can COVID-19 Be Cured?

According to the WHO To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicines against COVID-19.

In severe cases, the only possible treatments are supportive care to minimize discomfort caused by the symptoms.

Scientists and researchers are currently studying to find possible vaccines and other specific drug treatments, through clinical trials.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Cover your cough with your elbow or tissue. Make sure to discard the tissue immediately after use.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from others to avoid possible contraction.

The WHO updates its data regularly to keep everyone worldwide informed and alert. Make sure to get your news and information from reliable sources like the WHO or your national health administration.

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