As of March 2020, coronavirus COVID-19 has been labeled a pandemic and has lead to a state of emergency within numerous countries and states, including New York.
The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China a city of 11 million people and has so far spread to at least 95 countries. You can track how many cases and deaths have been reported using this site.
Many of the early patients were reportedly linked to Hua Nan Seafood Wholesale Market, a large seafood and animal market in the city, according to CBS News' Ramy Inocencio. Since then, most people have been infected without being exposed to the food from the market. As of January 30th, the coronavirus has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization.
What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. The virus can be spread from an animal to a human. The coronavirus has also spread internationally, with recorded cases in the U.S., Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, and several others. Strict travel restriction are currently in place to China.
This specific coronavirus outbreak that we are currently facing is known as COVID-19.
What are the symptoms?
According to the CDC, symptoms include a runny nose, headache, fever, sore throat, and the virus can cause pneumonia. Recovering from the virus greatly depends on immune system strength- as many of those who died were in poor health and pre-existing conditions. According to the World Health Organization, most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days.
The majority of cases, based on available reported data, are mild, with only 10-15% of reported cases requiring a hospital stay. It’s not prudent to report on a “death rate” despite what you may have heard because the true number of cases is still unknown due to the availability of testing supplies and transparent reporting by all governments. It does appear that this virus is most fatal amongst the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. There have been very few cases reported in young children.
Can it be treated?
Unfortunately, antibiotics are of no use once the virus is transmitted. However, once admitted to the hospital, medical care may include support for the respiratory system, other organs in the body as well as additional fluid administered. The person infected must recover from the virus on the strength of their own immune system. Read more about how to get tested.
How can I protect myself?
Although there aren’t any vaccines you can get to prevent getting the virus, you can certainly avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, wash your hands often with soap and water, and avoid contact with those who are ill.
WHO suggests only wearing a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.
We highly recommend staying calm, and doing your best to protect yourself and others around you by staying home from work, school, and other responsibilities if you are feeling ill.