As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread from country to country, it is import to arm yourself with the necessary information to both stem fear and stay healthy. Below is everything you need to know about the virus from reliable sources such as the CDC and World Health Organization.
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that first emerged in Wuhan, China in 2019 and has since spread from country to country. When people are speaking about coronavirus, it actually refers to a classification of multiple viruses. But, the specific strand that is making headlines today is COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can lead to larger respiratory problems and kidney problems. Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure to someone carrying the virus. The speed of transmission is cause for concern and still being studied, but it appears the virus can be contracted via cough and contaminated surfaces.
Where has the virus spread so far?
The virus has spread to most countries, including across Europe, Canada and the United States. The outbreak is officially being called a global pandemic.
Why is this any worse than the flu?
The two key differences between this virus and the flu come down to knowledge and death rate. According to Live Science, scientists have studied the seasonal flu for decades. So, despite its danger, we know a lot about flu viruses and what to expect from them each season. In contrast, we know little about this new coronavirus strain. While we have since developed a flu vaccine and have treatment available, COVID-19 does not yet have available treatment. Likewise, the death rate of the common flu is 0.1% while COVID-19 is proving to have a higher death rate.
How can I protect myself?
You can practice personal hygiene such as washing your hands frequently (for a minimum of 20 seconds each time), not touching your face, disinfecting surfaces, and opt-ing to stay home if feeling unwell. According to WHO, illness due to the virus is generally mild—especially in children and young adults. However, this coronavirus strain can cause serious illness and shouldn’t be taken lightly. About one in five people who catch it need hospital care.
Is there a treatment available yet?
There is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat this virus. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
How do I know if I have it?
The availability of coronavirus testing varies from country to country and, in the United States, has political implications. If you are based in the United States, refer to this CDC page for where you can get tested.
Does coronavirus impact pregnant women?
It appears pregnant women are no more likely than anyone else to have severe symptoms. In an analysis of 147 women, only eight percent experienced a severe disease and one percent were in critical condition, according to a report published by the World Health Organization. In short, you are not at a higher risk if you are pregnant.
What is the impact coronavirus is having on travel?
The arrival of COVID-19 has had widespread impacts on the travel industry. “Global travel is effectively shutting down,” explains Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. “It’s going to take a while to get it back up and running again. This is going to be a very tough year for the travel and tourism industry.”
According to USA Today, the global travel research firm, Tourism Economics, says the travel industry is feeling the most acute coronavirus pain for three reasons: official travel restrictions, event cancellations (like SXSW), and risk aversion. The ripple effects these three things are hurting airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, tourist attractions and other travel businesses worldwide.
Flights are so cheap! Should I book a trip?
Due to the financial fall out of the travel industry, airfare has never been cheaper. As tempting as it may be to hop on a plane right now, you need to exercise caution both from the standpoint of preventing further community spread and the risk of being stuck elsewhere should quarantine be implemented. Rather than plan an immediate trip, you can take advantage of low cost airfare by booking a vacation for later in the year.