What is true and not true about the new Coronavirus?

coronaviurs gov

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Florea Danut-George, a second year medical student at “Gr. T. Popa” Iasi, Romania. He 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.


As we know, in all its history, humanity has had different notable fights with different microscopic infectious agents from the Classic Antiquity, with the Antonine Plague, all way though Middle Ages, with the Black Death, and up to the 20th centenary, with the Spanish flu, and even nowadays, with the HIV/SIDA. At this moment people grant their attention to a new global health matter, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov). But what do we actually know about this new virus? Is it that dangerous as we tend to believe?

What we know so far about coronaviruses in general?

By the end of the last year, China alerted the World Heath Organization about several cases of human respiratory infections, produced by 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[1] The 2019-nCov is a member of the family Coronaviridae, that is organized in 4 major groups. Even though only 2  of these groups are known to infect humans, the most of coronaviruses affect exclusive different animal species, for example cats, dogs, rats, cattle, pigs. The epidemiologic researches show that these viruses are the second etiological factor of the common cold, after rhinoviruses, being responsible for 10-30% of colds worldwide. From its discover, in 1937, coronaviruses have rarely produced sever infection, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome[2].

How does it spread?

Typically of the most of respiratory viruses, it spreads in a person-to-person manner via respiratory droplets produced by an infected person who sneezes or coughs. These droplets can land on people’s mouth or nose who are nearby causing the infection. Other ways of spreading are not clearly noticed yet.[3]

What are the symptoms?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of USA, after the first exposure, the first symptoms of infection may appear in 2 to 14 days. The signs of a possible contact of the virus are fever, cough, shortness of breath.[4]

 Can it be prevented?

Although we do not have an vaccine for 2019-nCov yet, we can prevent the transmission by following a couple of easy-doing rules:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and other people
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early[5]

What is not true about this virus?

According to the World Health Organization, the most common myths about the 2019-nCov are:

  • There is some specific medicine that prevents the infection – UNTRUE
  • Antibiotics prevent the infection with the new coronavirus – NO, ANTIBIOTICS ARE EFFECTIVE ONLY FOR BACTERIAL INFECTIONS
  • The new coronavirus affects only younger and older people – NO, THE VIRUS CAN AFFECT PEOPLE OF ALL AGES
  • Spraying alcohol and chlorine or using UV lamps will kill the virus – UNTRUE AND POSSIBLY HARMFUL
  • Receiving packages from China can cause infection with the virus –UNTRUE
  • Garlic can prevent the infection – UNPROVED
  • You can contact the virus from your pets – UNPROVED[6]

References:

[1] https://www.elsevier.com/connect/coronavirus-information-center?dgcid=_FB_P_Connect&fbclid=IwAR1DqHFDKroPtn5GM9IZxJ4x2x-aJWC4Vk90NCsq7VlwRBpxTSQt18gqed0

[2] https://asm.org/Articles/2020/January/2019-Novel-Coronavirus-2019-nCoV-Update-Uncoating

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

[5] https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

[6] https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

About the author

Florea Danut-George is a second year medical student at “Gr. T. Popa” Iasi, Romania. He is spending most of his spear time volunteering for the medical students association from his university. Though his activity as volunteer, he is trying to make a change in his community. He participats at awareness campaigns about public health, sexual and reproductive heath and human rights matters, also he dedicates himself to improving the students’ experiences in his university through organizing different activities with medical education as theme.

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