Every day it seems like there’s more information about the coronavirus. Tips to stay protected, myths about the disease, and updates about different countries’ response to the crisis are circulating on the news and social media every day. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments and separate the fact from the fiction.
We’ll go over 7 basic facts about the coronavirus from its origin in Wuhan, China to the groups at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from the virus. Although it can be scary and overwhelming to keep up with all of the information out there, you just need a basic understanding of the facts to stay informed.
It Originated From Wuhan, China
The exact origin of the coronavirus is not entirely certain, but most health experts believe that this current strain of coronavirus originated in either bats or pangolins, which are mammals often known as “scaly anteaters”. The first transmission from animals to humans was in Wuhan, China, with reports of the virus starting in December 2019. Since then, it’s spread all over the world, infecting people in places from Europe all the way to Australia.
Some health officials believe that the coronavirus originated out of a seafood market in Wuhan, China. A few of the people who visited the market later developed viral pneumonia that was caused by coronavirus. However, a study was released on Jan. 25, 2020, that stated that the first person who was reported to have the coronavirus got sick on Dec. 1, 2019, and hadn’t visited the seafood market. Officials are still investigating the exact origin of the disease.1
Anyone Can Get Sick Regardless Of Race Or Ethnicity
While racial fears against people of Chinese origin have been stoked by the coronavirus pandemic, the reality is that anyone can get become sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Italy is one of the hardest hit countries by the disease, with over 110,000 cases of the disease and over 13,000 deaths as of April 1st, 2020.2 The disease has shown no discrimination in who it affects; if you come into contact with someone with the disease, you are at risk of getting it no matter what your ethnicity.
The new coronavirus is affecting 205 countries and territories. As of April 1st, 2020, there have been over 1 million cases worldwide. The United States has the leading number of cases with almost 300,000 cases, followed by Italy and Spain, which both have a little over 100,000.3 It’s clear that while the virus has yet to hit each country to the same extent, this virus has little respect for borders or politics. The only way to fully protect against the coronavirus is by following proper health protocols and social distancing.
Most People Have A Low Risk Of Becoming Seriously Ill
While the coronavirus is certainly a terrifying pandemic that is wreaking havoc all across the world, most people are not at risk of becoming seriously ill from it. Older people and anyone with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for serious complications from the coronavirus. Adults who are 65 years and older are considered to be high risk, which is causing organizations like to CDC to recommend against visiting nursing homes or senior living facilities unless it is an absolute emergency. After all, 8 out of 10 reported deaths from the coronavirus in the United States have been from adults who are 65 or older.4
People with underlying medical conditions are also at a higher risk for complications from coronavirus regardless of their age. If you have chronic lung disease, a serious heart condition, diabetes, or you’re immunocompromised, you need to take extra precautions.5 Conditions that cause you to be immunocompromised include cancer treatment, organ transplantation, smoking, or other immune deficiencies.
How the coronavirus affects pregnant women is not currently known. Health officials don’t yet know if pregnant women are more likely to contract the coronavirus nor if they’re more likely to have more severe symptoms. They also don’t know what effect the coronavirus will have on the health of the baby after birth. However, they do recommend that pregnant women take extra precaution to protect themselves from getting sick.6
About 80% of people who get coronavirus recover without specialist treatment, however. They usually just experience mild symptoms that are consistent with the common flu. Only about 1 in 6 people will experience more severe symptoms like trouble breathing.7
It’s Both Similar To And Different From The Flu
While the coronavirus and influenza are both infectious respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Both influenza and the coronavirus can cause fever and cough, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. They are also spread in the same way, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Coronavirus, however, is believed to possibly be airborne, although this has not yet been proven.
The biggest difference between the two are that the coronavirus is caused by one virus called SARS-CoV-2, while the flu can be caused by one of multiple different types of influenza viruses. There is also a vaccine available to prevent the most dangerous types of flu and reduce its severity, although a vaccine has yet to be developed for the coronavirus.
Another huge difference between the two is how little is known about the coronavirus. Despite the fact that the flu is widespread and kills between 291,000 and 646,000 a year, it is a well understood disease with a vaccine developed to prevent it. The coronavirus, on the other hand, is a new disease that is not yet fully understood. It isn’t yet known what the mortality rate is of the coronavirus, although it’s estimated to be higher than most strains of the flu.8
Symptoms Of The Coronavirus Present Within 14 Days
While the symptoms of the coronavirus differ from person to person, most of them begin presenting within 2-14 days of exposure. This is why many people who have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus have been subject to quarantine for 14 days to ensure they don’t have the virus. The White House has urged anyone who has visited New York to self-quarantine for 14 days due to the widespread outbreak of the coronavirus in the city.9
The United States has also barred any foreign nationals who have visited certain countries in the last 14 days from entering the country. This includes countries such as China, Iran, the United Kingdom, and many other European countries. If you are an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident and you’ve visited one of these countries in the last 14 days, you can enter the US but you’ll be redirected to a specific airport.10
You Can Protect Yourself With Just A Few Simple Measures
Staying safe from the coronavirus isn’t that complicated. All you have to do is follow a few simple health protocols to lower your risk of getting the disease and spreading it to others. The first and biggest thing you can do to stay healthy is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important to do after coming home from outside, before preparing or eating food, and before touching your face.
Because the disease is transmitted through respiratory droplets, you should also cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home if you’re feeling sick. You should also practice social distancing by avoiding close contact with other people and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet. Staying home as much as possible is the best way to reduce your chance of being exposed to the coronavirus.11
Knowing The Symptoms Can Help Stop The Spread
Detecting the coronavirus early is not only the key to treating it efficiently but also to slowing its spread. Many people are walking around and spreading the disease without being aware that they have it. This is because symptoms are typically quite mild or even not present at all. By being informed about what the potential symptoms are, you can seek medical advice early and ensure that you avoid close contact with others who may be sick.
The biggest symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, cough, and a shortness of breath. If you experience any of these, you should call your medical provider as soon as possible to seek medical advice. If you experience emergency warning signs such as trouble breathing or persistent pain or pressure in the chest, get medical attention immediately. These can be life-threatening symptoms that require immediate medical intervention.12
Staying informed is the most important thing we can do to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Misinformation and myths about preventing the virus can cause harm. By knowing these simple facts, you’ll be better equipped to outlast this pandemic.