What Is Coronavirus?

Anyone who has been keeping up with the latest news has noted the name “Coronavirus” in recent months.

On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2,” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019”. This particular strain of the virus causes more serious infection and respiratory conditions.

Being aware of the symptoms and practicing prevention measures is crucial for reducing the risk.

Types Of Coronaviruses

There are a few types of virus species that are classified as coronaviruses. These viruses belong to a specific family of viral species, known as Coronaviridae.

A total of seven particular species that belong to the Coronaviridae family have been found to cause infection in humans.

The seven types of Coronaviruses that can infect humans include:

  • HCoV-229E

  • HCoV-NL63

  • HCoV-OC43

  • HCoV-HKU1

  • MERS-CoV

  • SARS-CoV

  • 2019-nCoV

  • COVID-19

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Further research is still needed to provide more details on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Researchers think that the virus was also transmitted initially from an animal. At the moment, a bat is suspected of having caused the transmission of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

No accurate evidence has yet been provided, however. Thus, the transmission of the COVID-19 virus is considered to be similar to the other harmful types, including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

Data from existing outbreaks of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus suggests the viral infection causes respiratory disease to develop in the affected patient. Individuals affected by the virus tend to develop a severe form of upper respiratory infection. The respiratory symptoms and complications are similar to those observed in the SARS-CoV viral infection.

How IS COVID-19 Transmitted?

Person-to-person transmission of coronaviruses is often considered a concern in the medical industry.

A person who is infected with a coronavirus can spread the virus to other people they come into contact with. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. There are several ways that person-to-person transmission of these viruses can occur.

Individuals infected should consider the methods of transmission. Avoiding contact with an infected person can also help to reduce the risk of transmission. The virus may spread through the following:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

  • Droplets that are expelled from an infected person when they sneeze or cough. Traces of the coronavirus that infects the person will be present in these droplets. If someone who is not infected comes into contact with these droplets, they will be exposed to the coronavirus.

  • Touch-based contact may also cause the transmission of a coronavirus. An infected person may shake hands with someone who does not have an illness caused by a coronavirus. The uninfected person then touches their nose, eyes, or mouth – this may lead to the uninfected person being exposed to the coronavirus too.

  • Another common mode of transmission is by touching surfaces previously infected by the virus, where it survives for several hours.

What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19?

The symptoms a person may develop when they are infected with the 2019-nCoV virus tend to include:

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle aches

  • Fever

  • Dry cough

  • Breathing difficulties

The virus can cause pneumonia, and in severe cases, there can be organ failure.

How Quickly Do Symptoms Emerge? 

Symptoms are believed to appear between two and 10 days after contracting the virus. However, in some cases, it may be up to 24 days.

It is also important to note that some people may become infected but may show asymptomatic symptoms, meaning that they do not develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. They can, however, still transfer the virus to others.

How Is COVID-19 Diagnosed?

Public health officers are conducting testing for the new COVID-19. Patients are also carefully monitored to determine if they travelled to China recently. Other countries affected by the outbreak are also considered when a physician looks at the recent travel history of the patient.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 80% of those infected with COVID-19 recover from the virus without needing special treatment.

Around 1 in 6 people will become seriously ill and can develop difficulty breathing. Those who are at an increased risk of developing the virus are older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.

At present, the mortality rate is around 2% in the epicenter of the outbreak, Hubei province, and less than that elsewhere. This was the mortality estimate—the WHO recently released the real mortality rate, which was fixed at 3.4%.

Who Is Most At Risk?

Anyone can develop the virus, but certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing complications. The criteria of those at risk of developing a severe illness from COVID-19 includes:

  • those aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)

  • those with chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma or bronchitis

  • those with chronic heart disease

  • those with chronic kidney disease

  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis

  • those with chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy

  • those with diabetes

  • those with problems with the spleen

  • those with a weakened immune system

  • those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)

  • those who are pregnant

When should I seek medical help?

According to current CDC guidelines, if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

In the UK, the current advice is that people having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention quickly. But do not go out. Instead, you should call NHS 111. 

If you just have a fever and a cough, the British government advises that you self-isolate for seven days.

How Can I Prevent Infection?

As of yet, there is no available vaccine to assist in the treatment of a Coronavirus infection. Antibiotics do not work against coronavirus, as they work against bacteria, and coronavirus is a virus.

It is, however, possible for people to reduce their risk of being infected with a Coronavirus.

As a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • If you are feeling sick, stay home.

  • Ensure that when you cough or sneeze, you cover your mouth or use a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Another common mode of transmission is by touching surfaces previously infected by the virus, where it survives for several hours.

  • Face Masks should be used to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

  • It is important to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart, or lung disease.

What happens if I develop COVID-19?

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately. They will guide you through the next steps.

Anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine.

For those experiencing symptoms, self-isolation is necessary. It is advised by the CDC to restrict activities outside your home.

  • You should not go to work, school or public areas and should not use public transport.

  • If you share a home, it is important to stay away from other householders and, if possible, use a separate bathroom.

  • Try to keep at least 2 metres (3 steps) from other people in your home, particularly people over 70, or those with long-term health conditions.

  • Ask friends, family and delivery services to deliver food shopping and medicines outside.

  • Sleep alone, if possible.

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Drink plenty of water and take paracetamol to help with your symptoms

There has been some recent controversy surronding ibuprofen.

According to NHS England, there is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse.

But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus.

RELATED: How To Recover From COVID At Home.

How do you look after your mental wellbeing?

COVID-19 can also affect your mental well being, as well as your physical well being. Understandably, many people are increasingly worried as the virus spreads. For many, self-isolation has already been enforced, and as social contact with family and friends is limited, feelings of anxiety, depression, fear, and stress are piling up.

At times like this, it can be easy to let those emotions consume you, affecting your day to day life. Yet, it is important to try safeguard your mental health and not fall into unhealthy behavior patterns.

There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as

  • Look for ideas of exercises you can do at home.

  • Spend time doing things you enjoy – listen to music, read a book, cook a new recipe.

  • Start a new hobby- learn to play chess, a music instrument, complete an online language course, watch DIY youtube videos on home improvements.

  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, exercise regularly, and try to avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs.

  • Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden.

  • If you can’t get outside, improve the inside. Get some flowers (even artificial ones are a good call)

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Coronavirus refers to a range of microbial species classified as viruses. Most coronaviruses tend to cause a person to experience a mild infection in their upper respiratory tract.

There are other types of these viruses that cause more serious infection and disease. COVID-19 is a new disease, and as such, we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of the illness, and the prevalence of the spread.

The situation is rapidly changing, and understandably, many of you will be anxious. Look after your physical and mental well being and keep up to date with the latest information and government advice.

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  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-01-2020-statement-on-the-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-%282005%29-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-%282019-ncov%29
  2. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
  4. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. (1996) Chapter 60: Coronaviruses. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7782/
  5.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus: Transmission. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/transmission.html
  6. InformedHealth.org. (2012) Pneumonia: Overview. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525774/
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus: Symptoms and Diagnosis. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/symptoms.html


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