The 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: How Serious is it?
The coronavirus comprises a family of viruses that can lead to various infections in human beings. The infections range from the common cold to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), but one thing these viruses all have in common is that they affect the respiratory system.
Like pneumonia, the virus can cause lesions on the lungs. However, some strains of coronavirus lead to more serious symptoms than others.
Coronavirus first took hold in the city of Wuhan, China where (at the time of reporting) 362 people have already died. It is thought that over 17,000 have contracted the virus, and almost 3000 of those are said to be in a critical state.
This particular outbreak of the coronavirus was caused by the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-2019), a new strain previously unidentified in humans. Known as 2019-nCoV, it was first detected during the outbreak in Wuhan.
What are the coronavirus symptoms?
Symptoms vary dependent on the contracted strain of the coronavirus. Most of the time symptoms will be similar to those caused by the common cold. For example, sufferers may have:
• Nasal mucous
• Fever and chills
• Shortness of breath
• Bodily aches
More serious cases in Chinese patients confirmed severe acute respiratory infection that started out with a fever, and later a dry cough.
The coronavirus stats
In the Chinese city of Wuhan, estimates indicate that the coronavirus could have infected approximately 75,000 people. The city has the highest death toll so far. The University of Hong Kong has other ideas though; they suggested that the number might actually be much higher than official figures imply.
The latest figures issued by China’s National Health Commission are:
• 21,558 suspected cases of the coronavirus
• 152,700 people are under medical supervision
• 475 people have been discharged from hospitals
Around the world, the coronavirus statistics indicate that cases are already much higher than the number of confirmed SARS cases back in 2003.
The virus has been confirmed in over 25 countries outside of China since the outbreak started in December. The good news is that coronavirus mortality rates are far lower than SARS mortality rates.
How dangerous is the coronavirus?
Most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a common cold virus or the coronavirus symptoms.
However, when a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, pneumonia can set in. This means the virus is particularly dangerous for the elderly, and those with weak immune systems or chronic health conditions.
A China National Health Commission (NHC) expert said that it should not take more than a week to recover in full from mild coronavirus symptoms.
The Lancet medical journal published a report on the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. It concluded that the majority of deaths were in patients who had pre-existing health conditions.
Therefore, the general consensus is that the majority of people who contact the virus will recover fully, and symptoms will be no worse than normal flu virus symptoms.
How can you prevent contraction of the coronavirus?
To prevent becoming infected with the coronavirus, you should take the same precautions you would with regards to any virus. This may include the use of alcohol-based anti-bacterial sprays, soaps and hand sanitizers.
Avoid contact with anyone infected (or potentially affected with the virus), and try not to touch your nose, mouth and eyes, especially after being in a public place.
If you suspect infection, treat the coronavirus infection as you would a normal cold. Seek immediate medical assistance if you display symptoms of SARS.