What is a novel coronavirus? What is the COVID-19 virus?

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nomi king 6 months 1 Answer 114 views

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  1. “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) us a bew strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”

    Corona viruses are a large family of viruses, common in many animal species. Only rarely do they spread to humans and cause disease. Three such major incidences have been the SARS outbreak in 2003, the MERS outbreak in 2012, and currently the novel coronavirus COVID-19. SARS was thought to have spread from civet cats to humans, and MERS was thought to have spread from dromedary camels to humans. It is uncertain exactly which animal has propagated the current coronavirus illness.

    Very little is known thus far about the specifics of COVID-19. Since it is new in humans, it will take some time to understand the virus, the transmission, the incubation period, any seasonality trends, and potential treatments or vaccines to prevent infection. Other viruses such as influenza, have been studied for years and we are able to track trends and understand how it progresses. Since the COVID-19 is novel or new, it is currently uncharted territory. We just don’t know how it will progress.

    Putting these outbreaks in perspective is important. With the 2003 outbreak of SARS there have been 8,098 documented cases and 774 died. This is approximately la 9.5% mortality rate. In the 2012 outbreak of MERS there were 2494 confirmed cases with 858 associated deaths or about a 35% mortality rate. These numbers may be skewed higher due to the relatively smaller number or overall cases of SARS and MERS. The current COVID-19 outbreak has a morality rate of about 2%. In comparison, influenza has a mortality rate of less than 0.2%.

    As of today, there are only 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, and there are no deaths reported in the US. Because of precautionary measures now in place, the virus does not appear to be spreading in the US, and thus the health risk of the virus is very low for the general public in the US.

    The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, with only some also developing sore throat and runny nose. Because these symptoms are similar to many respiratory viruses, it is impossible to distinguish these from the coronavirus based only on symptoms.

    The virus is spread primarily through respiratory secretions similar to cold viruses and flu. There may be some indication that it can spread through the GI tract, but this is not certain at present. Most respiratory viruses are contracted by either inhaling the virus from close contact with the infected, or by touch and handling of the virus from contaminated surfaces.

    Preventative measures include good handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; hand sanitizers may help, but are not proven; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; stay home when you are sick until fever-free for 24 hours; stay away from contact with others who may be sick; disinfect and clean surfaces or objects that others may also touch such as door knobs, faucet handles, desks, and countertops.

    Should you wear a face mask? At this time there is no need to rush and obtain surgical or face masks. The types of masks available for use generally would be helpful in reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, but probably would not protect you from contracting the virus.”

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