Saturday, March 7, 2020

About COVID-19 coronavirus

Did you know that there are actually seven different strains of human coronaviruses that have been identified over the years? Most of the time, these strains are largely harmless and pass through relatively quickly, often mirroring the common cold with symptoms like runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell (Source: Wisconsin Department of Health Services).

However, a new strain of coronavirus, the one that emerged in recent months from Wuhan, China, appears to be far more dangerous by comparison to the other strains. This strain, which is being called COVID-19 (short for Coronavirus Disease 2019), is spreading around the world fast and disrupting public gatherings and economies, and, sadly, in some cases, claiming lives. But despite this gloomy outlook, there's actually a lot that we can do to prevent from catching and spreading it.

First, let's look at how the COVID-19 strain is contracted.

How does the COVID-19 coronavirus infect and spread?

According to this page of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, "The main way COVID-19 is spread to others is when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to how influenza is spread. The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick."

People who have been infected with the COVID-19 strain may present symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, and cough. Many people may not show any symptoms.

How can we prevent from getting or spreading it?

Luckily, a lot of prevention strategies come down to nothing more than simple, commonsense, good hygiene practices, like:
  • Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water
  • Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects that are used frequently
  • Covering your sneezes and coughs
  • Avoiding contact with those who are sick
  • Staying home from work or school when sick
For more information, check out this CDC COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

From CBS News, published on March 2, 2020, Jim Axelrod reporting - "Epidemiologist predicts effects of coronavirus in the months ahead":

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