The coronavirus - what exactly is it?

Health & FitnessMedicine

  • Author Oleksiy Denysenko
  • Published December 9, 2020
  • Word count 651

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus belongs to the Coronaviridae family, which comprises zoonotic viruses found in birds and mammals. Symptoms of a SARS-CoV-2 infection include fever, weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, and difficulty breathing.

The coronavirus - is China the source of the epidemic?

For several months now, the world has been trembling with fear of the newly discovered coronavirus. In just a few weeks, the virus has spread from Asia to almost all continents. The vast majority of coronavirus cases are still located in China, in the Hubei province (and its capital of Wuhan).

The incredible amount of untrue information spread by the media has caused a lot of disinformation and fear. Here are some facts about the coronavirus that also answer the most common questions about it.

The coronavirus - name

The official name of the Wuhan coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2. This is because of the virus' genetic similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which caused an epidemic in Asia in 2003. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19.

The coronavirus - vaccine

Work on a potential COVID-19 vaccine is ongoing in many research centers around the world. The structure of the virus is being studied, especially its surface glycoproteins, which could potentially be used to create an effective vaccine. So far, no human trials have been started.

The coronavirus – victims

An estimate based on the number of infected patients and recorded deaths indicates a mortality rate of approximately 2.3% (that is, approximately 2.3% of all infected patients are likely to die). SARS-CoV-2 would therefore be 20 times more lethal than the influenza virus. However, scientists say the calculation method used to receive this number is flawed because the number of tested infected patients might not reflect the actual number of infections. The vast majority of infected experience only mild symptoms of the disease, and some are completely asymptomatic - these people tend to be ignored in statistics. So the virulence of the Wuhan virus might be much smaller - right now it is impossible to know for sure.

Is it true that the virus spares young and healthy people?

So far, no cases of Wuhan coronavirus have been reported in people under the age of 9. Mortality of patients aged 10-49 ranges from 0.2% to 0.4%. However, for patients over 80, the risk of death is almost 15%.

Illnesses such as:

cardiovascular diseases (10.5%),

diabetes (7.3%),

chronic respiratory diseases (6.3%),

hypertension (6%),

cancer (5.6%)

increase the risk of death of patients infected with SARS-COV-2 compared to the population not burdened with comorbidities (the average risk equals 0.9% for all age groups combined).

The coronavirus - spread

SARS-CoV-2 is spread by droplet route. A sick person spreads the virus over a distance of about 1 meter when sneezing or coughing. Saliva droplets containing the virus settle on objects. Infection is also possible through contact with infected secretions and rubbing them into your mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, or nose).

Has the coronavirus reached Poland yet?

On March 4, 2020, the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Poland. So far, a total of 67,372 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Poland (as of 01/09/2020). 2,039 people have died as a result of infection.

The coronavirus - how to prevent getting sick?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a set of recommendations whose application should reduce the risk of transmission and infection with the virus.

Regularly wash your hands with soap or an alcohol-based preparation.

Avoid approaching sick people at a distance of less than 1 meter.

Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.

Cover your mouth with your elbow when sneezing or coughing to reduce the spread of the virus.

Stay home if you have any symptoms that might suggest being infected (fever, weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, difficulty breathing). It is worth implementing this point in the case of all infectious diseases, e.g. influenza.

If you develop symptoms after contact with someone at the site of the epidemic, immediately contact the infectious diseases ward.

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