Coronavirus: What Your Need to Know and How to Protect Yourself

Coronavirus: What Your Need to Know and How to Protect Yourself

By now, you have heard about the Coronavirus, that originated in Wuhan, China. In late January, 2020, the World health Organization (WHO), declared Coronavirus as a Global Health Emergency.

Here's what you need to know about it, the latest news, and how to protect yourself and your family.

Overview

Coronavirus is an airborne respiratory illness that appears to have originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new variant of coronavirus. By late January, 2020, there were over 1,000 confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating, testing and monitoring as additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. There are already more than 100 deaths, all in China.

The official name for the virus is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. Learn about Novel Coronavirus from the CDC.

The World Health Organization says:

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)  and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) . A novel coronavirus (nCoV)  is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced they have given an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19

Timeline

Following the spread of the virus is an important way to assess the risk of the virus to you. Keep in mind that it appears that China has known about the virus for weeks or months and has been actively suppressing and downplaying the true numbers, including reports of suppressing it's own citizens who attempt to report on it. This suggests that the numbers inside China may be far higher, even double those reported.  You can see the spread on a mapping tool on this website.

The World Health Organization daily situation reports are here.

  • February 1, 2020 - 10,000 reported infected (all but 20 are inside China, 11 cases in the US), 160 dead (all in China) Source Fox News
  • February 3, 2020 - 20,000 reported infected (all but 50 in China), 425 dead (all but 1 are in China)
    11 confirmed cases in the U.S., six are in California, one is in Washington state, one is in Arizona, two are in Illinois, and one is in Massachusetts.
    - source, CBS News
  • February 5, 2020 - 25,000 reported infected (all but 50 in China), 493 dead (all but 1 are in China, including Hong Kong) and over 1,000 have recovered already
    11 confirmed cases in the U.S., six are in California, one is in Washington state, one is in Arizona, two are in Illinois, and one is in Massachusetts. A 39-year-old man died in Hong Kong from coronavirus. Officials said the man, who had a preexisting condition, had traveled to Wuhan last month and was hospitalized Friday
    - source, CBS News
  • February 7, 2020 - 35,000 cases reported; 722 dead, all but one are in China (including Hong Kong)
    See this NY Times report. A Cruise ship docked in Bayoone, NJ with several cases infected taken off into isolation and the others released.
    It should be pointed out that most sources reporting agree that the Chinese government is likely greatly underreporting the number of actual cases.
    The BBC reports that  Dr Li, the Chinese doctor who warned others to protect themselves. died from the virus. He had been investigated ( more like persecuted) by Chinese authorities for "making false comments" and "spreading rumors"
  • February 11, 2020 - 43,000 cases reported; Worldwide: 43 103 confirmed (2560 new)
    In China;  42 708 confirmed (2484 new), 7333 severe (849 new), 1017 deaths (108 new).
    Outside of China - 395 confirmed (76 new), 24 countries, 1 death outside of China
  • February 13, 2020 - 60,000 cases reported;  There was an overnight spike in new cases and deaths from the virus in China, plus one death in Japan.
    See the CNN News Story about the spike in cases here.

Spread of Coronavirus by countryCoronavirus case map (2020-02-11)

In descending order, most cases to least (as of February 5, 2020), country then number of cases. Note: it is likely that there are also many cases in North Korea, but of course, they aren't saying anything!

  1. China 24,800
  2. Japan 35
  3. Singapore 28
  4. Thailand 25
  5. Hong Kong 21
  6. South Korea 19
  7. Australia 14
  8. Malaysia 12
  9. Germany 12
  10. USA 11
  11. Taiwan 11
  12. Macao 10
  13. Vietnam 10
  14. France 6
  15. Canada 5

What does coronavirus do and what are the symptoms?

Similar to the flu, SARS, MERS and other respiratory viruses, symptoms reported for patients with coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever , cough, and difficulty breathing. Read about 2019-nCoV Symptoms.

How is coronavirus spread?

This virus probably originally started from an animal source (some Chinese eat wild animals, such as snakes, bats, rats, etc, which carry new forms of viruses). Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans. Recent examples of this include SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. When humans eat these animals, sometimes the viruses in the animal mutate and become able to infect humans. The Coronavirus appears to have done this and is spreading from person-to-person.

It appears that this virus is airborne, being spread but droplets from a respiratory tract, such as sneezes, coughs, mucus, saliva, etc. Touching the droplets and then rubbing your eyes, face, mouth, etc. is the most likely form of infection. The droplets containing the virus could be left on surfaces like doorknobs, tables, cellphones, etc. Or being close to an infected person (6 - 8 ft) could also result in infection. .

What are the risks?

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the CDC's risk assessment is also changing rapidly. The latest updates are available on CDC's 2019 Novel Coronavirus website.

There are very, very few people in the U.S currently showing infection (3 or 4, in the whole United States). See the current U.S. case count of infection with 2019-nCoV. At present, the risk for those in the U.S. is very low. By comparison, each year there are about 12,000 to 61,000 deaths annually in the U.S. caused by the flu.

Preventing infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC always recommends commonsense preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing. Disposable masks can help - IF THEY ARE USED PROPERLY
  • UV sterilizers can be effective, especially when traveling, for killing germs on surfaces, such as in hotel rooms
  • Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Traveling?  CDC does have specific coronavirus guidance for travelers here .

Treatment of Coronavirus

Like ALL viruses, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help treat viruses (they are anti-bacterial). People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
See the CDC's Interim Coronavirus Guidance for Healthcare Professionals for information on patients under investigation .

More details about the coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. SARS is another form of coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civet cats. MERS, another coronavirus variant, came from camels. More information about the source and spread of 2019-nCoV is available on the CDC 2019-nCoV Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.