The fear of coronavirus is beginning to grip many nations across the world. In Nigeria, the news of possible arrival of another deadly scourge has reached the nooks and cranny of the country. Many people are afraid of what they do not know anything about. While the Western world is battling an identified new strain of the virus called the Wuhan Coronavirus, many in developing nations, including Nigeria are basically sure that the disease is deadly; aside that, they know nothing else about it. The new Chinese coronavirus, which has been referred to as the cousin of the SARS virus, has infected hundreds since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans. The virus has been circulating around Wuhan, China, since December 2019, infecting several hundred people and killing at least 17, according to the figures shared by Chinese health officials. It has been identified in some other countries, including the U.S. You might even be wondering what your odds of getting sick are. Well, the situation might not be as severe as it is being painted if you are equipped with the right information.
Information is very crucial to prevent outbreak of the scourge in any nation. This is why you need to read this article to understand the basics about what coronavirus is and how to prevent an outbreak.
What is coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, or upper throat. Coronavirus refers to a group of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. Some cases can be mild, whereas others involve more serious symptoms. The vast majority of coronavirus strains are benign, according to William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. If you do contract coronavirus, it’s typically no worse than a cold. You see why it is good to be equipped with the right information. Coronavirus is not entirely a monstrous situation. It has been described as almost equal to having a cold.
A bit of history
Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, but no one knows where they come from. They get their name from their crown-like shape. Sometimes, but not often, a coronavirus can infect both animals and humans.
How it spreads
Most coronaviruses spread the same way other cold-causing viruses do: through infected people coughing, and sneezing, by touching an infected person’s hands or face, or by touching things such as doorknobs that infected people have touched. This might be another good time to own hand sanitizers.
Some coronavirus strains live in humans, and some live in animals. In the current outbreak in Wuhan, the virus was passed from an animal to a human, an event the World Health Organization calls “a spillover event.”
The Wuhan coronavirus is a new strain and it is novel to experts; it’s in an unusual host — humans — and appears to cause a very serious illness in certain people. At the very least, coronavirus can cause fever, cough and general malaise, similar to a cold. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, severe acute respiratory system problems, kidney failure and death, according to the WHO. Health experts suspect it originated from live-animal markets in Wuhan, a city in China, though the specific animal source is still unknown.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
So what would you see in a person or notice in your body and begin to get worried and seek medical assistance? Here’s what the symptoms look like. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days. For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.
Who is affected?
Older people should worry more than children. MERS, SARS and the Wuhan coronavirus appear to cause more severe disease in older people, though uncertainty remains around the latest outbreak. Of the cases of Wuhan coronavirus reported so far, none are yet confirmed to be among children, Horby said. The average age is people 40 or over, he said.
There are a handful of human coronaviruses that are known to be deadly. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, also known as the MERS virus, was first reported in the Middle East in 2012 and also causes respiratory problems, but those symptoms are much more severe. Three to four out of every 10 patients infected with MERS died, according to the CDC. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS, is the other coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms. First identified in the Guangdong province in southern China, according to the WHO, it causes respiratory problems but can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, respiratory distress and kidney failure. Depending on the patient’s age, the death rate with SARS ranged from 0-50% of the cases, with older people being the most vulnerable.
The Wuhan coronavirus is currently thought to be more mild than SARS and MERS and takes longer to develop symptoms. Patients to date have typically experienced a mild cough for a week followed by shortness of breath, causing them to visit the hospital, explains Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford. So far, around 15% to 20% of cases have become severe, requiring, for example, ventilation in the hospital. This information makes the diseases not to appear as demonic as it has been painted in the media. But there is still cause to worry because lack of information and proactive ation could spell doom for anyone that has contracted the disease.
How to protect yourself
The coronavirus disease could be prevented in similar ways as most other viruses. Health experts suggest that the best way to ward off any virus like this is to wash your hands frequently. Try the best way you can to avoid people coughing and sneezing, especially in places it has been announced that the virus is existing. Sanitize a public surface you’ll be using for a few hours, like an airplane tray table or your desk. You might need a hand sanitizer as is usually the case in places where there is an outbreak of a viral disease.
For those traveling to China, health experts advise against visiting a live-animal market. Avoid contact with live animals on farms in rural areas and don’t eat meat sourced from strange animals. Immediately you suspect you’re sick and are at risk of contracting the virus, call health officials without wasting time. Make sure you call ahead of time so that adequate preparation and necessary safety measures would be taken.
You can reduce your risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds. Most importantly, awareness is very crucial to prevention. You can only avoid what you know. If you are sick and have reason to believe it may be the Wuhan coronavirus due to travel to the region or coming into contact with someone who has been there, you should let a health care provider know and seek treatment early. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.
There’s no vaccine yet and there are also no anti-virals or specific treatments for those who contract coronavirus. However, those with the illness will be treated with supportive care and symptom management. In fact, many people who’ve had this infection have successfully recovered and returned home. There is actually no need to panic. Get the right information, follow appropriate preventive measures and you’ll be fine.