The current Coronavirus disease in the news has been officially named by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “coronavirus disease 2019” and is abbreviated to COVID-19. The virus that causes it was provisionally named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses as novel coronavirus and is now identified by the name Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is a type of virus known as a coronavirus. The name coronavirus is derived from the Latin corona, meaning "crown" or "halo". Under an electron microscope, these round viruses are covered around by a halo of spiky protein.
Coronaviruses aren’t rare and humans commonly get types: 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1 which cause respiratory tract diseases and have symptoms like the common cold.
Why is this in the news
The coronavirus is in the news due to it being highly contagious and having a higher mortality rate than that of the flu.
You may have heard that the coronavirus disease isn’t that strong and a flu is worse, however while that may be true in some people’s cases, it’s not true in all and not the big reason it’s in the news. The biggest reason it’s in the news is how contagious the virus is. The scientific community can’t find the reason why it’s so contagious and can’t lock down how it’s spreading as once it was considered to spread by only touching an infected person’s bodily fluid and secretions, now there are some who are sick without coming into contact with a known carrier.
The virus is also affecting people differently as some will only get sick with what seems like mild flu symptoms, others are getting much worse symptoms. The common flu has a mortality rate of around 1% and while it was estimated to have a mortality rate around 2%, that number has increased to around 4%.
How is it spread
It is thought to be spread person to person via infected respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes of an infected person and is highly contagious. An infected person is most contagious while they are the most symptomatic. An infected person can cough and sneeze spreading the virus in the air through respiratory droplets which can be breathed in, land inside the mouths of an unaffected person, and land on surfaces which will be touched and infect someone when they touch their mouths, noses, or possibly eyes. Infected droplets on surfaces is not thought to be the most common way it is transferred. The virus has been known to infect those with long exposure of close contact (within 6ft) even without physical contact.
In the United States there are now confirmed cases of those that haven’t come in contact with known infected. “Community spread” is when someone gets infected without a known source such as the case of a few infected people in California.
The community spread cases may have gotten the virus from the known infected travelers that came into California, however there are now also cases in other states that have confirmed cases are are very unlikely to have had contact with those so either the virus is more contagious than thought before or those that are infected are contagious longer than thought and there have been more infected travelers than previously tracked.
Flu vs Coronavirus
The flu and coronavirus have a lot of similarities and without testing you won’t be able to distinguish one from the other via different symptoms.
Both the flu and coronavirus disease can cause fever, coughing, fatigue, body aches, sneezing, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea and can be mild or severe in intensity of symptoms. As they are viruses, they can’t be treatable with antibiotics, however antivirals may be taken to lessen the symptoms, although it’s unknown how effective they are with this strain of coronavirus. A flu can last 7-10 days, however it’s not widely reported how long the coronavirus symptoms last.
Steps to prevent getting infected
The same way you would try to prevent a flu or a cold would work for preventing getting the COVID-19.
Limit exposure to those that may be infected.
Wash hands frequently upon touching surfaces or shaking hands around those that may be infected.
Keep up your immunity
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
CDC does not recommend the use of facemask on healthy people
Long term exposure to close contact with those infected can get you infected as well. Don’t go to unnecessary crowded areas in areas where there are known outbreaks. Try to stay away from people coughing and sneezing and if you can’t help it, prevent touching your eyes, mouth, and noses and wash your hands and surfaces frequently.
Wash Hands Frequently
Wash your hands and surfaces frequently when you think you may be exposed to a sick person. You should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds to be effective. You can also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket in the event you shake hands or have contact with others such as making a purchase and touching the hands of a cashier and you aren’t close to a bathroom.
Keep up your immunity
Staying healthy is a great defense to getting sick. With a strong immune system you lessen the chance of getting sick even after being exposed to those that are. Get plenty of rest, drink water, eat healthy, and limit your stress to keep up your immunity.
Avoid touching your face
With respiratory diseases such as the flu and coronaviruses, it’s important to keep your hands away from your mouth, nose, and eyes. Touching surfaces that have respiratory droplets that carry the virus and then touching your face isn’t the most common way people get sick, however it is a way to become infected and the coronavirus is thought to live on surfaces longer than most viruses that cause respiratory diseases.
The use of facemask
The CDC does recommend the use of facemask for indoor environments with the public such as a store. They didn't at first recommend them to those that are healthy and not in the healthcare industry or those caring for people with currently infected with respiratory diseases, however that has changed with the increased stock of masks. Wearing masks doesn't decrease the chance to become infected to 0%, however properly wearing a mask and being around others wearing a masks even if they are affected, is the lowest chance there is to catch it while still around those affected.
Does bleach kill the Coronavirus?
While this strain hasn’t been studied enough to determine the most effective cleaner, it is thought that most household disinfectants are an effective cleaner. Use disposable gloves and use the household disinfectant appropriate for the surface you are cleaning and dispose of the gloves after cleaning and then wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and try to limit touching your face with your gloves and hands while cleaning.