What we know so far about the Coronavirus: The novel Coronavirus started in China in late 2019 (the working theory is that it jumped from bats to humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China) and was given the name COVID-19 by the WHO shortly thereafter. The virus eventually spread regionally and in February 2020 we saw cases extend to every continent (except for Antarctica).
- Every single one of us has had a coronavirus infection in the past- it’s one of the viruses (along with rhinovirus, adenovirus, etc.) that causes the common cold. This novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is just a variation (or mutation).
- This new coronavirus can cause anything from nothing to a mild cold to a potentially lethal viral pneumonia.
- Those who seem to be most affected by COVID-19 thus far are those who are more at risk to being with: those who are older, those with multiple chronic health conditions, etc.
- The evidence out of the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China revealed:
- Median age = 59 years of age
- 56% male
- No cases in children under 15 years of age
- Estimated basic reproduction number (the number or people an infected person infects) is approximately 2.2
- The average length of time from the onset of symptoms to hospitalization was 9.5 to 12.1 days
- There have been new coronaviruses in the past—most notably the SARS (2002, 2003) and MERS (2012 – Present) epidemics; however, the mortality rate of COVID-19 (0.2% or below) is notably lower than SARS (9-10%) and MERS (36%).
- This virus spreads from person to person, though we aren’t exactly sure how. Our best hypothesis is that it is spread via bodily fluids and droplets from speaking, breathing, coughing, sneezing, etc. (and potentially through the GI tract).
Here’s what we don’t know:
- We don’t know if this virus will peter out as the warmer months kick in; we also don’t know if this is a one-season thing or if it will come back strong again next cold and flu season.
- We don’t know when or if we’ll have a successful vaccine to prevent against this new virus.
How to protect yourselves and others:
- Just like any other respiratory virus: stay home if you are sick.
- Just like preventing any other respiratory virus: take good care of yourself. Exercise regularly, eat nutritious, balanced meals, practice stress mitigation techniques, and get a solid 7-9 hours of sleep a night, etc.
- Just like preventing other respiratory viruses: Wash your hands- a lot!
- Just like preventing other respiratory viruses: don’t touch your eyes, mouth, nose, etc., and get into the habit of washing your hands before eating.
- If you can, avoid contact with those who are sick or are caring for the sick.
- If you are not actively sick (or caring for someone who is), ear-loop/surgical masks are not likely helpful. Healthcare workers will wear masks (and often higher-rated ones than the ear-loop masks), as they have a much higher likelihood of caring for someone with the disease and are prioritizing mitigating the spread to others.
- Those who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 or who are being tested for COVID-19 will likely be asked to self-quarantine (currently not mandatory). If your job permits, start asking your employer about work-from home opportunities; if your job doesn’t permit work-from home, ask your employer what their plan is to keep you safe.
- Because of the real possibility of quarantine, stock a couple weeks’ worth of non-perishable food items in a pantry. Also make sure you have the basics—like medications, over the counter meds like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Sudafed, and mucinex, and (a rational amount of) toilet paper, tissues, etc.
No need to panic, just be informed, situation is evolving daily. Feel free to email or text any questions.