COVID-19Diseases & Conditions

Coronavirus and COVID-19: What You Should Know

The coronavirus has become the most talked-about topic worldwide, as the death toll keeps rising, and the number of infected people and animals increases on a daily basis. We live in the era of technology and social media where news travels fast, but not everything we read is true. Coronavirus is largely misunderstood, which only contributes to mass hysteria.

What Is Coronavirus?

The term coronavirus refers to a big family of viruses found in both humans and animals. These viruses cause symptoms and complications, ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome and other diseases. Although it seems the like coronavirus was first spotted this year, the truth is that this family of viruses was first described in the 1960s. The name coronavirus stems from a distinctive corona (crown) of sugary proteins projecting from the envelope that surrounds the particle. What makes coronaviruses particularly dangerous is the fact they are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between people and animals. 

Types of Coronavirus

Coronavirus has been around for a long time, but to most people, it seems like a brand new disease. The mass hysteria is contributed by the fact there is no effective cure, at this point, to address this virus. But as mentioned above, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses; it is not a single disease. 

There are seven types of coronaviruses that can infect humans. 

Four types of coronavirus (229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1) cause symptoms that are similar to the common cold and are referred to as community-acquired coronaviruses due to the fact they are common and infect people across the globe.

However, the other three coronaviruses – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), and the newly identified 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) – are problematic because they are associated with severe symptoms and even death in many cases. These three viruses are, essentially, evolved coronaviruses that infected animals and made humans sick, thus creating new, human coronavirus types.

COVID-19

On January 9, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement that confirmed that Chinese authorities had made a preliminary determination of a novel coronavirus. The new virus was first identified in a hospitalized individual with pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The term 2019-nCoV was used to refer to this new coronavirus until February 11 when it received the official name – COVID-19. The name is taken from the words “corona,” “virus,” and “disease,” while the number 19 refers to the year 2019 when the virus emerged for the first time. The outbreak of the new coronavirus was first reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019.

What Are the Symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus?

The biggest problem with the coronavirus infection, just as with many other infections, is that symptoms resemble those of the flu and cold. That’s why it takes too long for a person to go to the hospital. Signs and symptoms of confirmed respiratory coronavirus (COVID-19) infections include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Some patients admitted to the hospital also experienced a sore throat, rhinorrhea (runny nose), and gastrointestinal symptoms. Also, there is increased probability of blood clots, which was the reason of many reported deaths.

Prevention

Bearing in mind there is no treatment for novel coronavirus, the vaccine for its prevention does not exist either. This doesn’t mean you or your pet are bound to get infected. Lifestyle modifications and some tweaks in daily habits can help lower the risk of getting infected by a coronavirus. The most important preventive actions indicate that you should:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and display signs and symptoms similar to coronavirus or common cold.
  • Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands.
  • If feeling sick, stay at home.
  • In instances when soap and water are not near or available at the moment, make sure to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol at least.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and other people, especially those who are sneezing, coughing, and have a fever.
  • Use a tissue to cover cough or sneeze, and then throw it in the trashcan. You can also sneeze or cough into a flexed elbow, but avoid doing so in the palm of your hand.
  • Use disinfectant to clean surfaces at home or your work desk.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds, particularly after going to the bathroom, before eating, and right after sneezing, coughing, or blowing the nose. Make sure to wash hands even when they don’t appear to be dirty.

Washing hands with water and soap or hand sanitizer will kill the virus if it’s on your hands. We touch all sorts of objects and surfaces during the day and then transmit everything to our eyes and mouth by touching them without realizing it. That’s why you need to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. 

When it comes to the prevention of coronavirus, people tend to make a lot of mistakes. Again, this could be down to the fact that many websites and so-called experts recommend things that are ineffective and potentially harmful. Things that won’t prevent coronavirus, according to WHO, are:

  • Drinking a lot of traditional herbal teas
  • Smoking
  • Taking a lot of vitamin C (the more you take doesn’t mean the less likely you are to get infected)
  • Taking antibiotics and self-medicating 
  • Wearing multiple masks at the same time to maximize your protection
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