The first novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in Wuhan City, in China’s Hubei Province in December 2019, after a strange wave of pneumonia. The virus has spread fast since, and has now spread to more than 200 countries across the globe. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic.
Currently, there are over 1,200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, and over 65,000 reported deaths globally. Interestingly, on March 16, 2020, the number of infections and deaths within China were overtaken by those outside of the country.
As the world struggles to shrug off the new virus, we give a brief overview of what coronavirus is and what to be on the lookout for.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2 is categorized as a single-stranded RNA virus clinically known as coronaviridae, which is common in mammals, reptiles, and birds. In the case of human, it is characterized by mild infections similar to common cold, and accounts for close to 30 percent of upper respiratory tract infection cases in adults. Severe infections are not common, although coronaviruses can lead to enteric and neurological disease. The virus’ incubation period varies from person to person, but it is in most cases up to 14 days.
How Contagious is COVID-19?
The rapidly increasing number of confirmed cases, including healthcare personnel is an indication that inter-personal (person-to-person) spread of SARS-CoV-2 is taking place. The average number of people a single diagnosed case can infect others is estimated to be between 1.4 to 2.5.
The spread of COVID-19 is similar to other respiratory tract infections like SARS and MERS, which are transmitted through respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing and sneezing. The measures of curbing the spread are currently anchored on the assumption that the new virus is spread in the same manner.
How COVID-19 is diagnosed
Coronavirus affects the respiratory tract, where its common symptoms include mild to severe fever, dry cough. Other patients exhibit symptoms like sore throat, headaches, nasal congestion, myalgia, malaise, as well as difficult in breathing.
In more severe but rare cases, the virus is known to cause acute respiratory syndrome, pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.
How to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection
The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined the following measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of spreading the pandemic.
- Wash hands regularly with running water and soap, or an alcohol-based rub.
- Always cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid coming into close contact with others when you’re have fever-like or cough symptoms.
- Cook animal products including meat and eggs thoroughly.
- Keep safe distance of at least 1 and a half meters, and avoid congested places.
- Avoid close contact with wild or farm animals.
Important information to the general public
There has been a lot of misinformation on different media channels, including unverified COVID-19 treatment and cure suggestions. As it stands, the is no known cure for the virus, but intergovernmental organizations are working round the clock to find a solution. Patients exhibiting suspicious cases of coronavirus are advised to seek immediate advice from healthcare personnel.