Updated: Apr 18, 2020
Everyone's talking about being scared of the coronavirus, but what are the facts?
As per the World Health Organization, in December 2019 there was a cluster of pneumonia cases in China which is now known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This is a new virus and what's known about it now may change in the future.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that consist of a core of genetic material surrounded by an envelope with protein spikes which gives it the appearance of a crown. Crown in Latin is called corona, and that's how these viruses get their name. There are different types of coronaviruses that cause respiratory and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms. Respiratory diseases can range from the common cold to pneumonia and in most people the symptoms tend to be mild.
However, there are some types of coronaviruses that can cause severe disease, these include SARS-COV (China 2003) and MERS-COV (Saudi Arabia, 2012). The 2019n-COV was first identified in China. It initially occurred in a group of people with pneumonia who had been associated with a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. The disease since then has spread to others including family members and healthcare staff. There are currently many cases and the disease has spread within China and also to a number of other countries (including Thailand).
What is the origin of the virus?
It's known that coronaviruses circulate in a range of animals. Sometimes these viruses can make the jump from animals to humans. This is called a spillover and can be due to a range of factors such as mutations in the virus or increased contact between human and animals. For example, MERS-COV is known to be transmitted from camels and SARS-COV from civet cats. The animal source of the 2019-NCOV is NOT KNOWN YET.
How is it transmitted?
The exact dynamics of how the virus is transmitted is yet to be determined. In general, respiratory viruses are usually transmitted through droplets, created when an infected person coughs or sneezes or through something that has been contaminated with the virus.
Who is most at risk?
Those in close contact with animals such as live animal market workers and those who are caring for people infected with the virus such as family members or healthcare workers.
How does the disease present? (Symptoms)
From what is known so far there could be a number of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. There could be fevers and respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, there has been cases of pneumonia, kidney failure, and death. The mortality rate is not known yet.
How can we tell whether someone is infected? (Diagnosis)
The infection can be diagnosed by a test called PCR (polymerase chain reaction). This test identifies the virus based on its genetic fingerprint.
What's the treatment for the virus?
According to the WHO, there is no specific medication for the virus and the treatment is supportive care. There is currently no vaccine to protect against the virus. Treatment and vaccines are in development.
How do we prevent transmission of the virus?
This new virus currently has a limited geographic spread. However, there are a number of standard hygiene practices that have been recommended to protect against infection and further spread which include:
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a medical mask, tissue, or flexed elbow
Avoiding close contact with those who are unwell
Appropriate use of masks and personal protective equipment, especially in a healthcare setting
Washing hands regularly with soap and water or using alcohol based hand sanitizer
Actions that can be taken to prevent contraction from an animal source include:
Avoid unnecessary unprotected contact with animals
Washing hands after contact with animals or animal products
Ensuring that animal products are cooked thoroughly before they are consumed
Watch this video below from the World Health Organization for a visual of the explanation narrated above:
Since the WHO information and video above went live, there has been an article on Bloomberg (you can find a link to it at the end of this post) that states "Thailand found good results after using a mix of two antiviral drugs on a Chinese patient who was in a serious condition with the novel coronavirus, according to a health ministry briefing. The patient’s condition significantly improved within 48 hours after the medical team decided to use antiviral drugs originally used for HIV and influenza in his treatment, Kriangsak Attipornwanich, a doctor at the state-owned Rajavithi Hospital who is treating the patient, told reporters at the Public Health Ministry briefing Sunday. The patient’s test result also turned negative, the doctor said." If this treatment is continually shown to be effective, it could be a breakthrough for Thailand's healthcare market and anyone around the world affected by the coronavirus.
One of the measures I've noticed the most since the news of this coronavirus is that everybody is wearing a mask to protect themselves. The WHO has released advice on this and the summary is here for your reference (you can also click on the link below for all the details):
Wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures to limit spread of certain respiratory diseases, including 2019- nCoV, in affected areas. However, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide the adequate level of protection and other equally relevant measures should be adopted.
If masks are to be used, this measure must be combined with hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures to prevent the human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCov.
Wearing medical masks when not indicated may cause unnecessary cost, procurement burden and create a false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as hand hygiene practices. Furthermore, using a mask incorrectly may hamper its effectiveness to reduce the risk of transmission.
Here's an image explaining pros and cons of using different masks:
We need to be mindful of the source of information when we read anything because there is a lot of #FakeNews about the coronavirus. Here's an image that addresses the myths and facts of a corona virus. The one that stands out the most is that the common flu kills 60 times more people annually than coronaviruses.
In summary, practice hand hygiene and wear an N-95 mask if you really want to wear one.
Take care of yourselves and be mindful of your surroundings and decisions.
Information shared by Devi Bajaj
Executive Director of Enliven Concierge
Below are links to some articles related to the topics above: