About Coronavirus #19

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Respiratory (which affect your breathing system) viruses which are called coronaviruses because they have crown-like spikes on their surface. Corona is Latin for “crown.” Of the seven viruses known to infect humans the seventh is COVID-19 which stands for coronavirus discovered in the year -19. In January, 2020 Chinese sequenced the genes in COVID-19 and found that is genetically similar to the coronavirus that caused the SARS (known as SARs-CoV) epidemic in 2002. The official name for COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2.

CBS news has reported: Key symptoms oc COVID-19 to watch for include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. However, the illness can also cause body aches, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea. Up to 80 percent of those who become infected appear to have mild symptoms and may not even know they're sick. But in severe cases, the illness can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and death, according to the World Health Organization.

By far, the elderly – especially people over age 80 and/or those with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or lung diseases – are most vulnerable to complications of the coronavirus. This is why the American Health Care Association recently released
guidelines limiting visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to curb the spread of illness.

General Information
Like all respiratory viruses, COVID-19 is spread to other people in only three ways:

1. By breathing when an infected person sneezes or coughs invisible respiratory droplets within six feet of them. Coughing into your hand does not prevent the spread of droplets, and promotes #2 below. This is why health and food service workers always cough into a cloth handkerchief or into their elbow. A minimum distance of six feet separation (“social distancing”) from other people can usually prevent inhaling these droplets.   As many as 30-40% of infected people may have such mild cases as to not show symptoms, so stand back from everyone, not just people who appear sick.

2. By touching things touched or coughed/sneezed on by an infected person, and then transferring microscopic material to your eyes, nose or face.  Thus, wiping down (sanitizing) countertops, glass and dishware, keyboards, telephones and especially doorknobs & car handles every hour or so is essential.  Break the habit of touching your face which transmits the virus to your susceptible tissues around the eyes, nose and mouth. And, frequent hand washing of 20 seconds or more in warm water with soap. Use disposable paper towels, not cloth, to dry as the virus can live on cloth.

3. By having fecal matter from an infected person contact the mouth area.  Yes it’s, gross, but this can happen when you drop your pants and underwear on the floor of a bathroom, or they touch the seat, etc. as there can be invisible trace amounts of fecal matter that get on your clothes, then on your hands and then is transferred to one’s face. Nor does efficient wiping with paper remove the germs left behind. Obviously cleaning the bathroom is important, but also being sensitive to your clothing and what you touch in the bathroom is just as important. Again, try to break the habit of touching your face and frequent hand washing, before and after bathroom use to protect others and yourself.

By the way, wearing a face mask does little to nothing to protect a healthy person from breathing in droplets. Viruses are extremely tiny, smaller than bacteria, and they pass through most masks. Also, even masks with higher filtration must be professionally fitted to a person, as they are typically too loose to seal around the nose and mouth. On the other hand, an infected person should always wear a face mask to reduce the droplets they breathe out especially when sneezing or coughing. Healthcare workers in contact with coronavirus patients should wear a personally fitted mask capable of filtering out 95% of particles at least 0.3 microns (1/1,0000th of a millimeter) in diameter which is called an N95 mask.

What are the Risks?
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard reported on 02/18/20:

“It also appears that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization,
said during a media briefing with reporters Monday. "More than 80% of patients have mild disease and will recover. In about 14% of cases, the virus causes severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath. And about 5% of patients have critical diseases including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure," he also said. "In 2% of reported cases, the virus is fatal, and the risk of death increases the older you are. We see relatively few cases among children. More research is needed to understand why."

Note that the above statistics are for all age groups. A very low percentage of children seem sickened after contracting the virus; while, around 8% of people 60 and over may die (based on Chinese statistics) after contracting it. So evaluate the risk in the context of your age group, and realize that preexisting illness (especially lung problems like asthma or COPD) further worsen the odds. Ms. Howard, goes on to say:

While the novel [new, not seen before] coronavirus fatality rate is lower than for SARS and MERS, it still seems to be comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Neil Ferguson, professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, said in January. "It is a significant concern, globally," Ferguson said, noting that we don't yet fully understand the severity.Ferguson said he believes the fatality rate is likely to be lower because of an "iceberg" of milder cases that have not yet been identified, but he highlighted that novel viruses spread much more quickly through a population.

Viability on Surfaces
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported that COVID-19 can survive on hard surfaces like stainless steel and plastic for up to three days (72 hours) and one day on cardboard. Estimates based on other coronaviruses had guessed at a few hours to a few days, but now we have a better “ball park” estimate. Ultraviolet light is a powerful disinfectant, and its survivability will be shortened on surfaces exposed to sunlight. Keep in mind that many windows and windshields block UVA, so we are talking about direct sunlight here. Don’t use ultraviolet light on your hands as the radiation is irritating and possibly harmful.

Prior research with other viruses suggests that its life on rough surfaces and cloth may be shorter. Food is of little risk, since the virus enters the body through the respiratory (through the eyes, nose and mouth) not the digestive system. So it is important to clean utensils, glassware and plates as well as the packaging food comes in to avoid getting it on your hands and then transferring it to your face. So, once again, disinfect surfaces and wash your hands!

Please refer to the previous section for information about disinfecting surfaces and cleaning regarding how to kill all coronaviruses. Don’t forget your cell phone!

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