Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, has rapidly become a global health concern. As cases in the United Kingdom are increasingly being reported, we want to help you find the most reliable information to ease your worries so that you can feel confident in protecting yourself.
In approaching this evolving pandemic, one thing remains certain: It’s essential to be notified and proactive but not worried or extremely alarmed.
However, In case you might be asking yourself:
There are some easy things which you can do to help protect yourself from many respiratory infections, including coronavirus. Read on to learn more about Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), its symptoms in humans, causes, and prevention.
- Types Of Coronaviruses
What Coronavirus Exactly Is?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is defined as an illness caused by a novel coronavirus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Its name originates from the Latin word “corona” due to the club-like spikes that project from the surface, reminiscent of a solar corona.
The Coronaviridae family is divided into four types: alpha, gamma, beta, and delta coronaviruses. It may cause a wide range of illnesses in birds and mammals, ranging from upper respiratory infection in chickens and intestinal diseases in cows and pigs to life-threatening respiratory infections in humans.
When Did It Become A Global Pandemic?
In case you didn’t know:
Many early cases of the COVID-19 outbreak have been associated with the people who have visited the Huanan Seafood Market located in Wuhan, China. After being identified as a possible point of origin of the resulting pandemic, the market became widely known worldwide.
The coronavirus case was initially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the 31st of December, 2019. They declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
As of March 2021, more than 115 million cases have been confirmed, with more than 2.55 million deaths attributed to COVID-19, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history!
Types Of Coronaviruses
There are four common types of human coronaviruses:
- 229E (alpha)
- NL63 (alpha)
- OC43 (beta)
- HKU1 (beta
These types of human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate symptoms, and most people around the world will contract at least one of them over their lifetime. Also, those who incur these viral infections are able to recover on their own most of the time.
And that’s just one side of the story.
There are also three further coronaviruses that originated as animal infections. With time, these viruses evolved and were eventually transmitted to human beings. Let’s look into them in detail:
(P.S: These coronaviruses pose more severe risks to human health).
SARS-CoV is a beta virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). According to the WHO, the very first human case of SARS-CoV occurred in southern China in November 2002. However, before infecting humans, it may have originated in bats and were transmitted to other animals.
During the 2002-2003 epidemic, 8,096 people in 26 countries around the world contracted SARS, leading to 774 deaths. In mid-March 2003, the outbreak was successfully contained by implementing the infection control precautions such as isolation and quarantine. Since then, only a handful of cases have occurred.
Right now, there is currently no reported case of SARS transmission in the world. But if the virus ever re-emerges, it could pose a major threat to the public.
MERS-CoV is a beta virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this disease was first reported in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. However, retrospective investigations later identified that the initial cases were later traced back to Jordan in April 2012.
Humans get infected with the MERS-CoV through:
- Contact with camels that have incurred the disease.
- By coming into very close contact with somebody who has the disease.
Since 2012, more than 2,580 MERS cases have been identified in 27 countries. To date, the majority of cases have been identified in Saudi Arabia.
In 2015, an outbreak in the Republic of Korea led to a total of 186 MERS-CoV cases, including 36 deaths. According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), this outbreak began with a traveller returning from the Middle East.
Moreover, according to the ECDPC, there were more than 200 MERS-CoV cases reported in 2019. Health authorities worldwide continue to monitor the epidemiological situation and conduct risk assessments based on the latest available information.
SARS-CoV-2 causes COVID-19. In late December 2019, this new type of coronavirus appeared in China’s city Wuhan, after health officials observed an increase in pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.
Within a few months, SARS-CoV-2 has spread to hundreds of countries worldwide after being transmitted through person-to-person contact.
Typically, it takes 5 to 6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show. However, it can also take up to 14 days.
Following are some of the common, less common, and severe COVID-19 symptoms.
1. Common Symptoms:
- dry cough
2. Less Common Symptoms:
- sore throat
- aches and pains
- loss of smell or taste
- skin rashes or discolouration of fingers or toes
3. Severe Symptoms:
- loss of movement or speech
- chest pain or pressure
- shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
How Does The Coronavirus Spread?
Humans can contract COVID-19 if the virus gets into their mouth, eyes or nose, which happens when they are in close contact (less than 1 metre apart) with an infected person.
However, experts believe the COVID-19 virus spreads mainly from person-to-person. There are several ways this can happen:
Droplets Or Aerosols
When an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, tiny particles called aerosols transmit the virus into the air from their mouth or nose. Anyone who is in close contact (within about 6 feet) with that infected person can breathe the virus into their lungs.
Research indicated that the virus could live for up to 3 hours in the air. It can get into your lungs if the infected person breathes out, and you breathe that air in.
Another way to catch the new virus is when you touch things and surfaces that the contaminated person has touched, coughed, or sneezed on. You may touch a doorknob or countertop that’s infected and then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.
This virus can live on surfaces like stainless steel and plastic for 2-3 days. And in order to stop it, clean and disinfect all knobs, counters, and other surfaces that you and your family frequently touch.
What Can I Do To Prevent Myself And Others From COVID-19?
The following steps help prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other coronaviruses and influenza:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitiser when there is no soap and water nearby.
- Wear a face mask.
- Try not to touch your face.
- Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue, and throw the tissue in the bin afterwards.
- Keep a distance of 6 feet between yourself and other people.
- Avoid large gatherings and getting close with people who are sick.
- DO NOT leave your home if you are sick.
- Disinfect surfaces and daily-use objects regularly.
Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections in humans. Although most of these infections aren’t severe, several kinds of coronaviruses (such as SARS-CoV-2) can cause life-threatening diseases.
For most people, drinking plenty of fluids and resting are the best treatments. Doctors may also suggest taking over-the-counter medication for fever. However, more severe cases require hospitalisation. It may include breathing support, i.e. a ventilator, or other treatments.