Virus Coronavirus: No time to die

coconavirus 2

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mantė Šmigelskaitė, a 22-year-old medical student at Vilnius University in Lithuania. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

It feels like since December of 2019 no one has had a full night of sleep. Angry, confused citizens have been doing their google researches and getting ready to fight for their survival. China coronavirus (2019 nCoV) outbreak has spread and it was declared as a public health emergency of international concern by World Health Organisation (WHO) on January 30, 2020. While pharmacies are running out of medical masks and the internet is blowing up because of memes and semi-inappropriate jokes regarding coronavirus, one should dare to raise a question: how real is this threat?

First of all, ways of spreading, symptoms and existing dangers of 2019 nCoV should be understood. 2019 nCoV is spread through direct contact with secretions or droplets. One should sneeze into their elbow avoiding to spread infected particles into the air. As coronaviruses do not survive long on surfaces of objects outside living organisms, at present, there is no scientific evidence that letters or packages from China could infect anyone. That package from eBay someone has been waiting for 2 months is safe to retrieve. Main symptoms of 2019 nCoV infection may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing. Majority of the infected people are likely to fully recover – as they would from the flu. A more severe form of illness is associated with a weak immune system and older age as most of the patients who died from 2019 nCoV were over 60 and had comorbidities.

Now, a quick „reality check“: as reported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 797 – 1770 people die everyday of the seasonal flu. Up to this day (February 10th) 910 people have died from 2019 nCoV since it started in December of 2019. Which one should people be aware of? Well, both, it would be crucially wrong to turn a blind eye on any of them. Every viral, bacterial, fungal etc infection should be considered as a threat at some extent and tried to be prevented.

There is no vaccine for 2019 nCoV (yet) which makes many people concerned. However, avoiding contact with sick, sneezing and coughing people and washing one‘s hands frequently using soap and hot water may not only protect from coronavirus, but from other viruses and infections as well. While „scientists are racing to develop a vaccine“ let‘s step up the hygiene.

What is really upsetting is coronavirus panic awaking racism and discrimination against people of Asian descent assuming that they all have that deadly virus. Social media spreads social stigma and blame, the same issue has been observed with the 2014 Ebola outbreak but we have not learnt the lesson; all this slander is also really hard to recover from so why make lives of people who are suffering already even harder? It is 2020, superstitions and hate will not solve the problem, science will.

Coronavirus is scary – it is brand new and has not been dealt with before, but the way people react to it can make things worse. As the number of both cases and deaths of 2019 nCoV is growing, sanity should not be lost over statistical data. Prevention is the number one weapon against 2019 nCoV for now, this is why no one should go about their day recklessly without washing their hands.


About the author

Mantė Šmigelskaitė is a 22-year-old medical student at Vilnius University in Lithuania. She has started her studies in 2016 quite unexpectedly as she was planning her carreer in arts at that time. Mantė believes that raw textbooks and immaculate marks are not enough to become a great health care professional, it is important to keep up with the recent events and actively take part in them. It is very upsetting for her to see young people ignoring global matters and she feels a need to bring a change and encourage the youth to take up action.


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