The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus has become a public health emergency since there is currently no vaccine to prevent this disease that infected more than 80,000 people and killed more than 2700 worldwide.
Basic protective measures against this virus are mandatory, so let’s discuss about the risk of being infected and understand better how to reduce exposure and transmission of coronavirus.
What is the coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a type of virus that originated in Wuhan, China and may spread by respiratory droplets if the infected person coughs or sneezes. The incubation period is believed to be: 2 to 14 days but research is ongoing and suggests that for asymptomatic patients the incubation period is 24 days. The signs of infection are similar to the common cold or flu and they can be mild or severe, going from cough and fever to shortness of breath.
Why is this coronavirus different?
Although there are many kinds of coronaviruses, this deadly strain has not been identified in humans before. It had been transmitted from animals to humans which is quite rare and now the pandemic spreads among humans which is even more rare.
What are the symptoms?
According to World Health Organization, signs of infection include
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Trouble breathing
In some cases (older people and people with pre-existing chronic diseases) this infection leads to
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- Kidney failure
How does the coronavirus spread?
Although the scientists are still assessing how the Covid-19 coronavirus spreads from a human to another, it is believed that it spreads like similar respiratory illnesses, from person to person in close proximity via cough and sneeze.
Basically, when the infected person sneezes or coughs, the droplets of mucus or saliva can fall on those who are in vicinity and be inhaled or picked up on the hands and transferred on their mouth, leading to infection. But the droplets can also land on all kinds of surfaces, on bus seats, trains, desks, airplane seats, armrests where viruses can survive from several hours to months.
How to protect yourself from coronavirus?
- You should do exactly what you do when it’s cold and flu season;
- Avoid close contact with people that are showing the signs of respiratory illness;
- Stay six feet/2 meters from persons who sneezes or coughs for more than 10 minutes;
- Wash your hands as often as you can, with soap and clean running water and scrub for at least 20 seconds;
- If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue then throw it in the bin and wash your hands;
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands;
- Wear a face mask to block liquid droplets. However, they can’t block the aerosol particles that will pass through the permeable material. They don’t cover the exposed eyes and there is evidence that you can get infected though the eyes as well;
- If you visit live markets, avoid unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces that have been in contact with them;
- Avoid eating raw foods or uncooked animals’ products;
- Stay indoors in quarantine and avoid contact with people after travel from affected areas for at least 14 days;
- If you just returned from an affected area and have signs of temperature, cough, runny nose or difficulty breathing, seek medical advice before leaving home.
What is being done to stop the spread? When will a vaccine become available?
Although this did not prevent the virus from spreading, China has lock-down Wuhan and a dozen of other cities. Airlines have halted the flights to China and some countries at the border banned entry to Chinese citizens. As the confirmed cases continued to rise more and more countries are taking drastic action from restrictions on movement to limiting the strain on health infrastructure to prevent the virus from spreading.
Although this epidemic is considered a serious concern, for the moment there is no available vaccine for mass.