Similar to other coronaviruses (e.g. SARS and MERS), the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2) is a respiratory virus that seems to originate from animals. The 2019 outbreak started with a hand full of cases in Wuhan, China, that initially seemed like regular pneumonia cases. But soon Chinese researchers found that this was a new type of coronavirus causing the symptoms. Since the virus has spread worldwide, we learn more and more about it. Unfortunately it was found to be highly contagious, and can easily spread from human to human.
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The severity of the symptoms can range widely, from very mild to severe respiratory infections, with about 80% of people only having mild or no symptoms at all. When people are symptomatic, these symptoms are often quite non-specific and include:
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of smell
The incubation period—meaning, the time from infection to outbreak—varies anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks.
Is the COVID-19 Coronavirus deadly?
It can be–especially for people with significant other medical problems; particularly the old, and the ones with weak immune systems and lung problems (smokers, or people with other lung diseases). Because of the rapid spread, there is a growing number of deaths as a result from coronavirus infections. Currently, the chance of dying from the infection is at around 2% (compared to about 0.1% of the flu). To avoid the spread of this virus and other respiratory viruses in general, it is a important to follow certain preventative measures (see below).
How can the Coronavirus spread?
Person-to-person spread occurs through respiratory droplets in the air by an infected person that talks, coughs or sneezes, and it can be transmitted when there is close contact between people. It can also be transmitted if a person touches a contaminated surface and afterwards touches the face, but particularly any mucus membranes (the nose, mouth, eyes).
How to prevent getting the Coronavirus infection?
The spread of the virus within the United States and particularly California is worsening. We therefore recommend to follow the CDC guidelines and your local government stay-home orders as long as they are in effect. Here are some things you can do on a day-to-day basis to avoid the spread of the virus:
- Avoid touching your mucus membranes, eyes, nose mouth without washing your hands
- Sanitize your hands or wash your hands frequently (at least 20 seconds with soap and dry it with a clean towel)
- Do not mingle with people if you are sick, and stay home
- Sneeze into your arms or a disposable tissue
- Disinfect your work space and other surfaces you touch often
- Wear a mask (research suggests that wearing a mask could decrease the spread of the virus by around 80% and therefore slowly eradicate the pandemic–however for this to work, everyone needs to do their part as masks protect others from your droplets)
- Avoid large gatherings, especially bars, parties as they have been shown to be responsible for large clusters recently
There is no vaccine for the coronavirus yet. There are currently many studies ongoing to test anti-viral medications. Initial research that looked medications like Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine was not able to be replicated when more thoroughly studied–in fact the latter even increases the chance of dying from COVID-19. In patients that are so sick from COVID-19 that they need to be hospitalized, dexamethasone seems to be promising, HOWEVER in mild cases it might have the opposite effect, so it should not be prescribed to outpatients.
Many so called remedies that can be found online are not based on scientific evidence (e.g. garlic, bleach and others) and at best are likely not effective, and at worst, may even harm you. Once you are infected with the virus, the treatment usually consists of symptomatic relief, e.g. medications to lower the fever (antipyretics like acetaminophen), oxygen therapy if needed, and intravenous fluids, etc. Sometimes the infection can lead to a bacterial infection, where antibiotics may be needed. If you have any respiratory symptoms like trouble breathing or are concerned about having contracted the coronavirus or have any questions regarding the outbreak, consult one of our QuickMD doctors. Please also keep an eye on the updates on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website.