Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Your Need to Know and How to Protect Yourself

Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Your Need to Know and How to Protect Yourself

For the most part, the Coronavirus behaves like the flu, here's how to protect yourself and your family and what to do should you show symptoms.

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 (see CDC FAQs ), cough, and difficulty breathing. In confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the reported symptoms and related illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms in most otherwise healthy people to severe illness and death in elderly and those with other health issues, particularly respiratory issues. Typical symptoms usually include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses and what they are learning from the current COVID-19 case

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.

Can the virus live on inanimate surfaces, such as paper money, clothing, doorknobs, etc?

It now (late February 2020) appears as though this is possible. It is reported that the Chinese government has begun burning paper money and documents.

How the virus is transmitted

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. .

Note: the World Health Organization says "people receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages."

Preventing infection

Facemasks or face coverings are now recommended to help reduce the spread from asymptomatic people. See this page for more information about non-medical face coverings. And for more about medical grade masks, see this page.

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. of the correct type (NIOSH N25 rating) can help - IF THEY ARE USED PROPERLY See this page from WHO about how to use disposable marks properly.
  • UV sterilizers can be effective, especially when traveling, for killing germs on surfaces, such as in hotel rooms. They are not intended for use on skin.
  • 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 .

One of the latest treatments involves the use of steroids (dexamethasone, see news here ), which help strengthen the respiratory system.

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.

References and More information about the source and spread of 2019-nCoV

  1. CDC 2019-nCoV Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.
  2. U.S. Department of State China Travel Advisory
  3. World Health Organization, Coronavirus
  4. Know the Facts About COVID-19 and Help Stop the Spread of Rumors - WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2020
  5. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel (New Travel Alerts)MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2020
  6. CDC in Action: Preparing Communities for Potential Spread of COVID-19SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2020
  7. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) and ChildrenSUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2020
  8. Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and PregnancyFRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2020

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The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

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