If you’ve been keeping up with the news as of late, you most likely have heard about the coronavirus that’s causing some hysteria. However, whenever a new outbreak of disease occurs, there’s a lot of misinformation and media-induced panic that circulates throughout the internet, causing people to become much more anxious than they likely need to be. In times such as this, it’s important to research the facts, and best methods for keeping yourself healthy.
First, we need to understand where this virus originated; in this case it’s the city of Wuhan, China. The current strain of coronavirus that is spreading is known as a “novel coronavirus” meaning that it’s a strain that’s never been encountered by human beings before. Those originally infected in Wuhan are believed to have contracted it from the Huanan seafood wholesale market located in the center of Wuhan. This market see’s some of the most foot traffic for the area on any given day and the virus likely grew within the fish that were sold and distributed amongst hundreds of Chinese citizens. As we know, this would not be the first instance in which humans contracted a new disease from animals; swine flu and Ebola being a few notable examples.
The symptoms of this virus aren’t that different from the flu when it’s in its most minor form. Those with the coronavirus have experienced severe coughs, fever, and breathing difficulties. The biggest concern regarding the virus is that it causes pneumonia, and in the most severe cases organ failure. Since it’s a viral form of pneumonia, antibiotics and traditional flu medicines won’t work to combat it.
WUHAN, CHINA – JANUARY 22
It’s important to note now that those who have been drastically affected by the virus, or have unfortunately passed due to its symptoms, were, for the most part, already in poor health. Such as when an older individual contracts pneumonia or the flu, they’re at a greater risk for further complications simply due to their age and the health of their bodies. So when you see tweets or headlines regarding the rising death rates due to this virus, know that for the most part the deaths were caused by a combination of ailments that the coronavirus further amplified.
The virus, like any other, is spread from human to human transmission, as confirmed by China’s national health commission. As of January 27th, there have been 2,700 reported cases of the virus and 56 deaths in China, however, experts believe that the actual number of those affected worldwide has likely reached upwards of 100,000. However, many of the individuals may not even be aware they have it, and will likely just develop regular flu symptoms as a result.
When it comes to the expert opinions, doctors and health professionals alike are the most concerned with the spreading of the disease. As previously stated, there’s much more of a focus on individuals who already are in poor health who contract the virus, as they are the most likely to develop more severe symptoms.
The National Health Service (NHS) recommends going to the doctor if you’ve recently traveled to China, or been in contact with someone who has/who has had a confirmed case of the coronavirus, and you’re experiencing severe cough symptoms for multiple days. However, for the most part the NHS is urging everyone not to panic, and treat all cold or cough symptoms as you normally would. If you find yourself experiencing a severe cough with other ailments such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or an overall sense of weakness, then visit a doctor as you normally would, and again, don’t panic. In times like this it’s very easy to self-diagnose every little symptom as something 100 times more severe than what it actually likely is.
The fact that the virus is now in the US and spreading outside of China is worrisome, but expected by experts. Now it really is all a matter of containment and treatment of those infected. What’s likely to happen now is The World Health Organization will declare a “public health emergency of international concern” in regards to the outbreak. The declaration itself sounds scary, but it’s actually a positive thing, as it ensures that a majority of the world’s medical resources and tools will be directed to strictly helping combat this virus.
Prevention for the coronavirus is the same as any other virus. Make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly (at least 20 seconds every time) throughout the day, keep hand sanitizer on you at all times, and disinfect the spaces where you spend most of your time (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, office) and things you touch the most throughout the day (your desk, computer, cell phone).
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.