FAQs: What Do We Know About Coronavirus COVID-19 So Far?
Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that are responsible for causing illnesses like the seasonal flu or the common cold that we are all familiar with. However, this one the coronavirus is a new strain of the virus, which was never seen in humans before. Coronavirus COVID-19 is the disease that is caused by the coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2.
Its first occurrence was reported in December of 2019 in Wuhan city, China, where it is said to be started in a seafood market. A lot of people got infected and started showing signs of a severe case of pneumonia. Since then, it has spread to almost 196 countries worldwide and has been affecting over 7,00,000 with an increasing death toll that is multiplying tremendously on a daily basis. Based on two month long pandemic spread, here’s what we know about Coronavirus COVID-19 so far:
How did COVID-19 reach the United States?
A lot of the first occurrences of it in the United States were traced back to the people that had a travel history to China itself, to other virus affected countries, or coming into contact with an infected person. However, now as there has been an increase in the number of people getting infected, the cause as to where and how they got infected can no longer be traced. This is very concerning as this suggests that the United States is in the third stage of the virus outbreak where a person’s being infected cannot be traced to possible travel history, meaning that the infection is spreading in the community now.
How can you differentiate between symptoms of seasonal flu and COVID-19 coronavirus?
Most people, when they contract Covid-19 coronavirus symptoms, get confused between whether they actually have the virus or simply the common cold. If a person is having a runny and a blocked nose, that just might be an allergy or just the seasonal cold. Luckily for people that are healthy and have a strong immune system, they can fight off the infection without any issues, but for people that have a weaker immune system due to other underlying medical conditions getting severely ill can be a high possibility. If the person shows other symptoms like a persistent dry cough along with difficulty in breathing, they should get screened immediately.
Is every person at risk of contracting COVID-19?
Yes, everyone is susceptible to getting infected regardless of age and how strong their immune system is. Because it is a new strain of the virus, it is highly contagious, and everyone is at a very high risk of contracting it. Children, however, seem to have a better chance of avoiding any severe consequences if they get the infection.
Why are some people getting sicker than others by this virus?
Although anyone can contract Covid-19, 80 percent of the population get better on their own without any kind of medical intervention; all they need is plenty of rest and fluids. The rest of the 20 percent get gravely ill after getting infected by this virus, which has a lot to do with their age if they are 60 years and older or are battling with other underlying health conditions that might have weakened their immune system. But even then, there have been some cases where the virus was contracted by young people, and they got severely ill.
Which age group is at higher risk for catching a serious case of COVID-19?
The people that are more likely to be gravely ill by this disease are older people that are of age 60 and above, those who have other underlying health concerns like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., people that have autoimmune diseases, lung issues, and people that have a compromised immune system like those with HIV.
Is COVID-19 coronavirus airborne?
No. Covid-19 is solely spread through contact with a sick person’s respiratory droplets and by touching contaminated fomites or surfaces. So far, there has not been any such news about Covid-19 being an airborne disease.
What exactly is social distancing, and should you be doing it?
Social distancing is greatly being implemented in curbing the spread of Covid-19. Social distancing means varied ways through which people can be kept separated from one another. Think about standing a bit farther from the next person in line when you go grocery shopping, avoiding large gatherings of people, parties, picnics, concerts, etc. Working from home instead of going to the office also comes under social distancing. The whole point is to avoid the infection getting transmitted in the community; the more active people follow the rules of social distancing, the easier it would be to nip the outbreak in the bud.
Are seemingly healthy looking people “spreading” the virus to others?
Some people that get infected by the coronavirus do not show any symptoms at all, but that does not mean that they do not carry the risk of transmitting it to the others. Because such people showing no symptoms means they are not getting tested all the while they are potentially infecting most of the people that they are meeting with since contracting the infection. It is here that social distancing becomes really helpful.
What can you do if you live with someone who gets sick with COVID-19?
If someone gets the virus and that person has been home quarantined, you need to maintain no-contact with that person as much as it is possible. Apart from that, you also need to adhere seriously to maintaining good hygiene by washing and sanitizing your hands and also disinfecting the surfaces that are frequently touched like door handles, desk surfaces, etc. If you, however, need to be in close contact with the infected person, wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
Can you use pneumonia vaccines against Coronavirus COVID-19?
No, vaccines like the Haemophilus influenzae type B or HIB and the pneumococcal vaccine do not work against the novel coronavirus. Since the virus is very new and so it needs an altogether new type of vaccine of its own.
What type of medical help/care do people with this virus need?
If a person is infected with the virus, they need to be immediately isolated, and the health care services need to be informed about it. People with very mild symptoms can isolate themselves at home and stay there till the time they recover. These Covid-19 patients can be given OTC medications to ease their symptoms, along with plenty of rest and fluids to stay hydrated. However, people that are at a higher risk of developing grave symptoms like difficulty in breathing and pneumonia need to be isolated and treated at a hospital. If a patient gets seriously ill, they might need to be kept on a ventilator as well.
What is the process of screening people for Coronavirus COVID-19?
If an infected person exhibits mild symptoms, they are advised to stay at home and rest. However, if a person shows symptoms like a fever over 100 degrees, a dry cough, shortness of breath along with having a travel history to the countries greatly affected by the outbreak like China, South Korea, Iran, etc. or they think that they might have been exposed to the virus should go through a screening which involves taking a mucous swab from the nose and the throat of the patient. These samples are then sent to a laboratory to be tested.
Should US residents need to be more concerned about the flu or COVID-19?
The major difference between the seasonal flu and Covid-19 is that while the flu generally starts during the spring and fall months and disappears during summer, Covid-19 does not look like it is going to slow down anytime soon. Since the coronavirus is a new type of virus, we do not know if, like the seasonal flu, it will also run its course come summer. While the seasonal flu can be treated by taking flu shots or with the help of Tamiflu, Covid-19, as of now, does not have a vaccine.
How can you protect yourself? Should you be wearing a facemask?
Although it might seem like a good idea to wear a face mask in order to protect ourselves from the coronavirus infection, things are not as it might seem. The face mask might feel like a protective barrier between you and the virus, but in reality, its surface can harbor a lot of germs. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you maintain proper hygiene, wash your hands with soap or sanitize them periodically, avoid touching your face as much as possible, and sanitize frequently touched surfaces. Face masks should only be used by the medical team when they are taking care of the sick and by those that are already sick so that they do not spread their respiratory droplets on the other person and onto different surfaces.
For someone who is immuno-compromised, and need to go to work, what can they do to protect themselves?
Despite the current virus outbreak, some people like the medical staff need to be at work. At work, people can abide by the rules of social distancing, avoid face to face meetings, and get things done via phone calls rather than going to their cubicle or cabins personally. Other than that they can also regularly clean their workstations, get some people to work from home so that there is more space between workers.
What practices should a person follow on public transportation in this pandemic?
People like medical workers need to be on their toes at all times, even during this Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. Some of them use trains or buses to get to work. Traveling in these times is very dangerous as you are in a very closed space with a lot of people around you, some of which can potentially be carrying the virus. To curb these government authorities are working to clean and sanitize the trains and the buses more frequently. As an individual, what you can do is, sanitize or wash your hands with soap as soon as you get off these modes of transportation and until then avoid touching your face. People that do not need to travel on trains and buses can skip these so that the ones that really do need to travel in these can have a wider space for themselves.
How should you speak to your children about this coronavirus COVID-19?
Needless to say, it can be very scary as a kid to get to know about a deadly virus outbreak that has been taking over the world. Parents need to disclose the news in a very calm manner so as to avoid any panic that might arise. They need to assure them that the government officials and the medical staff are working hard at curbing the menace and that they are all going to be fine in the end. Parents should also teach their kids about social distancing and washing their hands with soap frequently along with covering their mouths with their hands while coughing or coughing in the crook of their elbows.
Will COVID-19 die-off in summer when the weather gets warmer?
No, COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.
Will the influenza shot help people from this virus? Can medications like Tamiflu help patients from contracting coronavirus COVID-19?
The flu shot, as well as Tamiflu, was made to combat the type of virus that causes the seasonal flu. The genetic makeup of the coronavirus is entirely different for the one that causes the flu and so taking a flu shot or Tamiflu will not help you in combating the coronavirus. It needs an altogether different vaccine of its own. However, there have been some speculations that a type of drug used for fighting HIV known as Kaletra can have a great shot at curing Coronavirus COVID-19 or help the sick in recovering faster. A lot more research needs to be done in this sphere, but the chances of this drug working do seem to spark some hope.