basics of covid-19
July 8, 2020
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN LIGHTLY EDITED FOR CLARITY AND GRAMMAR.
What you should know about COVID-19.
SARS-CoV-2, also known as a novel strain of the coronavirus, was first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China after an outbreak of pneumonia. The city has a population of 11 million people, which was the reason why the virus spread quickly between the heavily populated city of Wuhan, the more crowded province of Hubei, and then to China as a whole. Within a matter of weeks, the virus spread across the world; specifically, 200 countries and territories across the globe. It was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th, 2020.
What is the coronavirus?
SARS-CoV-2 is part of a family of single-stranded, positive RNA viruses known as coronavidae, a common type of virus that targets and affects mammals, birds, and reptiles. Just like the common cold, the overarching coronavidae virus causes mild infections in human bodies. There are little to no serious infections, but it can cause substantial damage which could also result in death. This is a new strain of coronavirus which has not been previously identified in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms may appear in 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to someone who has the novel coronavirus. They also mentioned that the incubation period (the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) of the coronavirus varies between people and their medical conditions, but usually lasts two weeks. According to a group of Chinese researchers, research in various positive cases has concluded that SARS-CoV-2 may be infectious during the incubation period.
Other coronavirus outbreaks include the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. MERS infected roughly 2,500 people and led to 800+ deaths. Another outbreak was the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which was discovered in the southern part of China in 2003. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and resulted in roughly 800 deaths.
How does the virus spread?
The novel coronavirus spreads from person-to-person. The spread specifically occurs between people who are within 6 feet of each other through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets can potentially land in one’s mouth and/or nose and can be inhaled into the lungs. Loads of evidence shows that people can spread COVID-19 even if they never develop symptoms or before their symptoms start. Due to the growing amount of proof, the CDC believes that people are at their prime contagious level when they are experiencing symptoms. The simplest way to limit their exposure by staying home. There are a lot of myths as to how the coronavirus spreads.
These are some of the most common myths and some undermined genuine facts in our society that have to be addressed:
· Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be spread through food? — The virus can’t be spread through food. According to the CDC, there are no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
· Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19? — A common myth is that warm weather can stop or potentially reduce the cases/outbreak of COVID-19. However, there is nothing to prove that weather and temperature can affect the spread of COVID-19. Similar viruses like the common cold and flu spread during the colder months, but that doesn’t mean that you couldn't be diagnosed with those viruses in other months.
· Can mosquitoes or ticks spread the virus that causes COVID-19? — There is no data to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 is being spread by mosquitoes or ticks.
· Can I get COVID-19 from my pets or other animals? — To add on to these myths, there is false news spreading around that pets and/or other animals are spreading COVID-19 to owners and visitors. However, there is no evidence to suggest that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. It is still important to note that a small number of pets including dogs and cats have been reported with the virus, though. A tiger in New York has also tested positive for the virus.
· Can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread through drinking water? — This is a valid myth because there are viruses in filters to help disinfect and filter out certain chemicals that are harmful to one’s health. Luckily, the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
· Can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread through pools, hot tubs, spas, and/or water playgrounds? — There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, and/or water playgrounds. In general, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water with bromine or chlorine should inactivate the virus. However, it is recommended to follow guidelines from pool operators, hot tub operators, apartment complex operators, hotel operators, and most importantly, state, local, territorial, and tribal guidelines to ensure your safety.
· Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewage systems? — The virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater. The risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through properly designed and maintained sewage systems is low.
· Am I at risk if I go to a funeral or visitation service for someone who died of COVID-19? — There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19.
What is the cure for the virus?
As of now, there isn’t any medication to cure the coronavirus. The easiest way to get rid of the virus is to take care of yourself or get admitted into the hospital depending on what symptoms you are experiencing.
If a person is showing any of these signs/symptoms, seek emergency care immediately:
Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
Otherwise, if you have been tested positive and/or if you have been experiencing common symptoms for the novel coronavirus:
Stay home except to get medical care
Monitor your symptoms carefully; if your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider immediately
Get rest and stay hydrated; take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen to help you feel better
If you have a medical appointment, notify your healthcare provider ahead of time that you have or may have COVID-19
Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home; if possible, use a separate bathroom; if you must be around others, wear a mask
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