An outbreak of the respiratory illness initially known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first detected in Wuhan, China, last December 31, 2019. Reportedly, this virus was spread from animal to person, which has offhandedly transmitted from one person to another like wildfire, in just a matter of weeks.
The news about nCoV traveled fast and caused panic in neighboring states. The virus has also already infected some Western countries such as the USA, Canada, the UK, UAE, and more of them have positive cases as of the present.
You can take a look at the locations with confirmed cases from the latest report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Facts on 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Novel Coronavirus or nCoV is a newly discovered strain from the family of Coronaviruses (CoV), which has not yet been previously identified on humans until the recent events. This type of viruses can cause illnesses and severe diseases, just as the infamous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) did in the past.
It is a fact that coronaviruses are zoonotic by nature. They’re originally transmitted from animals to humans. 2019-nCoV is a beta-coronavirus that appeared from an animal reservoir. The source is linked to a large seafood in a live animal market in Wuhan, China. When patients emerged with the same symptoms, but without the exposure to animal markets, it was then suggested that the virus migrated from person to person.
The Chinese health authorities were the first to report about the detected disease. They posted it in GenBank, the NIH genetic sequence database, and the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) portal.
There are still other coronaviruses undiscovered as they have not up until now infected humans.
How The Virus Spreads
What experts know about the Novel Coronavirus are largely based on previous experiences with similar animal coronaviruses that have infected humans: MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV.
2019-nCoV spread from person-to-person in close contacts, approximately 6 feet apart. Like other respiratory pathogens, the virus can transfer via respiratory droplets in coughs and sneezes.
Avoid catching these droplets straight to your mouths or noses, which gives easy access to the lungs through inhalation.
Specialists are still trying to find out if a person can acquire the virus through hand contact on people or objects with traces of the virus and then touching their own mouths, noses, and even the eyes.
There are common patient cases that have been observed wherein those who have existent respiratory diseases are highly contagious and more likely symptomatic than healthy individuals.
The actual rate of nCoV’s transmissibility is still under investigation, but there are updated reports on the number of individuals who are confirmed infected with the virus.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Evident signs can indicate a possible infection of 2019-nCoV, that when noticed early, can help avoid the severity of the illness.
You might need to consult your physician once you notice the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
In some severe cases, the virus can elevate to more serious diseases such as:
- Kidney failure
- Respiratory problems
People who have existing or underlying diseases, especially with respiratory-related problems, may easily acquire the infection or may allow the symptoms to progress quickly once they enter the system.
Unfortunately, no treatment has yet been achieved for the 2019-nCoV. There’s also no vaccine to fight against the virus for now. WHO deems this outbreak as an opportunity for a medical breakthrough and creates a roadmap to study further and conduct researches about the disease.
There are teams in China, the USA, Australia, France, Britain, and Germany working to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, but it’s expected to take years before completion. Optimistically speaking, the samples of infected patients and the sequences of the virus progression are counted upon by researchers who are willing to work on one goal. Otherwise, mankind might fall into false hope once again.
2019-nCoV Infection Prevention
Without a vaccine, the best way to protect yourselves from the 2019-nCoV infection is to avoid exposure from the virus. You can follow these daily preventive measures, which are much simpler than curing the virus itself:
- Keep your airways covered, such as your mouth and nose. Most people who are in close contact with people (specifically those in healthcare services) regularly use surgical masks for first-line prevention. You might get caught by surprise when people cough or sneeze in front of or near you.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, with or without people around. It is strongly advised not to touch your mouth, nose, and eyes with unsanitized hands. Use regular hand soap and water for washing, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing the nose. It’s basically a cycle of hand sanitation.
- If you get sick, especially with the three common viral symptoms present, it’s preferable to stay at home for observation. Cover with surgical face masks to avoid the risk of getting infected. If you suspect anything for more than three days of having fever, constant coughing, and difficulty breathing, have yourself checked immediately.
- Make it a habit to wash your hands once in a while, and keep your surroundings clean and disinfected.
It is a general precaution to practice extra hygiene measures when going to wet markets or live animal markets if you cannot refrain from doing so.
You have a role in this natural phenomenon battled by the world right now. If you prevent yourself from getting infected, you are also hindering the virus from getting passed on to another person.
Additional FAQs on 2019-nCoV
Can a symptomatic individual test negative and later test positive for 2019-nCoV?
There could be a possibility that results will come out negative when tested during the early stages of infection. Premature testing might render the virus undetectable. However, with consistent symptoms tested within the regular timeframe, negative results most likely mean that the patient is not infected with 2019-nCoV.
Will you be put to risk for 2019-nCoV when receiving products from China?
While there is no certainty on how the 2019-nCoV is transmitted, it’s best to stay on the safe side and apply all precautionary measures, including the possibility of getting the contagion through objects contaminated by the virus.
We cannot fully assume that the 2019-nCoV will behave like its predecessors. The ambivalence of the survivability of this particular virus holds so much possibility that it should not be risked.— Even though there’s a low chance for the contamination to sustain various weather and temperature condition throughout the shipping period.
Who should be tested for 2019-nCoV?
It is already mandatory for travelers who have been to China (within 14 days) to undergo 2019-nCoV testing.
As stated above, those who are firmly showing common symptoms for more than three days, it’s safe to have yourself tested and admitted as early as possible.
For ultimate safety, everyone with developing symptoms should also report the people they came in close contact with, to watch out for possible signs, and for them to undergo observation as well.
Recent Update: The Official Name of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (nCoV)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has finally given the 2019-nCoV an official name.
The temporary name of this new coronavirus, “2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Disease”, is now officially changed to “COVID-19”, wherein “CO” stands for corona, “VI” for the virus, “D” for disease, and “19” for the year when the disease outbreak was first identified.
COVID-19 is a name that strips away the constant association and stigma against the location from where the disease originated. This deadly virus from China has given the country and the people a grave misrepresentation, which the organization would like to refrain from. Misassociations can lead to further damage, such as wrongly-driven fear and panic from the public.
COVID-19: Is It A Threat?
WHO has declared the virus infection as a global health emergency. So, it’s not just people calling COVID-19 a threat. The potential of this outbreak is already an international concern and presently with a still-climbing high-risk assessment.
COVID-19 is presently considered as a powerful threat that’s equivalent, or even more so threatening than a terrorist attack.
For only about six weeks after the COVID-19 was discovered, the total confirmed cases around the world had reached over 40,000 patients, with more than 1,000 deaths. The global spread of Novel Coronavirus has a vast majority in China, particularly in its provinces.
Aside from the fact that the virus outbreak is being treated as a health emergency, it has also impaired foreign relations, most importantly in terms of industrial and economic commitments.
The people don’t need to draw confusion and raise false alarms from unreliable sources of information about COVID-19. However, it is a great responsibility to become aware of one’s physical health in times like this. One can only be too careful when a deadly virus outbreak is in action. It is now our individual duty to make sure that we will not become contributors to this contagion. You can tune-in and follow-through with live updates on the Coronavirus outbreak here on CNBC’s live blog reports.