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Here is everything you need to know about Coronavirus

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As coronavirus which started in Wuhan China continues to spread across the globe, here is everything you need to know about the deadly virus.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named after their appearance, a crown, said Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

How dangerous is coronavirus?

Most coronaviruses cause mild symptoms that patients easily recover from.

What are the symptoms?

Many symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza overlap, here’s how to spot the differences.

When did the outbreak start?

The World Health Organization’s China office says it began receiving reports in late December of a mysterious virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in eastern China with a population of roughly 11 million people.

How is coronavirus transmitted?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are common in camels, cattle, cats and bats. Person-to-person transmissions are thought to occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

How often are people hospitalized for it?

The risk of contracting coronavirus remains low for most Americans, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said.

How can you protect against getting it?

You can protect yourself from coronaviruses by following basic wellness practices.

How do I sanitize surfaces?

Keeping your home and surfaces clean using the correct disinfectants is crucial in preventing its spread.

How long can it survive on surfaces?

The novel coronavirus may be able to live on surfaces, namely metal, glass or plastic, for up to nine days —  if it resembles some of its other human coronavirus-causing “cousins,” that is.

Are you washing your hands correctly?

There are a few general rules to follow when it comes to washing your hands thoroughly, including for how long you should keep them under running water.

How do I make my own hand sanitizer?

If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer is the next best option — namely if it contains at least 60 percent alcohol, the CDC says.

Do face masks help?

“Surgical masks will not prevent your acquiring diseases,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, and the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Who is most at risk?

Young people, senior citizens and those with immune deficiencies could have an acute reaction if exposed to the virus.

Does it affect pregnant women?

The health agency said that while risk to the American public remains low at this time, pregnant women should continue to engage in usual preventative actions to avoid infection, such as washing hands often and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

How do you care for a relative who has it?

Even if the patient does test positive, it can be considered safe to continue supporting them with some extra precautions.

How do you test for it?

Before being tested for the deadly virus, patients must first answer a series of questions.

How do you treat it?

Fox News received an in-depth look at the new disease from Dr. Debra Chew, a former epidemic intelligence officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Is there a cure?

Health agencies recommend patients receive supportive care to relieve coronavirus symptoms.

Can you get it through packages?

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “There is no evidence right now that the coronavirus can be spread through mail.”

How do you travel during the outbreak?

As the coronavirus risk grows globally, being smart about planning travel will help you stay safe.

How does coronavirus compare to other outbreaks?

SARS and MERS came from animals, and this newest virus almost certainly did, too.

Is coronavirus Disease X?

The novel coronavirus has led one expert to say that it fits the criteria for “Disease X,” a designated placeholder on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of illnesses that have potential to reach international epidemic levels.

Is coronavirus here to stay?

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said the virus “is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year.”

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named after their appearance, a crown, said Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

There are many types and a few are known to infect humans. Some cause colds and respiratory illnesses, while others have evolved into illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

SARS began in China and infected some 8,000 people during a 2002-2003 outbreak. Approximately 770 people died after it spread to other cities and countries.

“This is the third kind of novel coronavirus that we’re having experience with that can cause lower respiratory tract disease,” Rupp said Tuesday.

In some rare cases, the virus can be transmitted from animals to humans but are typically transferred during contact between humans, according to the CDC.

How dangerous is coronavirus?

The coronavirus, or what is now known as COVID-19, began at an animal and seafood market in the city of Wuhan and has since spread to several other countries, including the United States. The illness is now said to be transferable between humans.

As news of the virus spread and death tolls began to spike, many have begun to question how dangerous the new outbreak is. Coronaviruses, which get their name from their crown-like appearance, come in many types that cause illnesses in people and animals.

Most coronaviruses cause mild symptoms, such as the common cold that patients easily recover from. Other strains of the virus — such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) — can cause pneumonia and possible death.

SARS killed 770 of 8,000 people infected in 2002-2003. MERS killed about three or four out of every 10 people infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

Coronavirus can survive several hours on surfaces, CDC recommends these precautions

In an effort to curb the spread of the disease (human coronaviruses are passed through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, touching objects with the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands, according to the CDC), the city of Wuhan shut down all air and train traffic. On Jan. 30, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency — just days after WHO officials announced they would hold off doing so.

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries. Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the time.

Meanwhile, CDC officials monitoring the outbreak maintain that the risk to the American public is low, despite the 15 confirmed cases of the virus that have occurred in the U.S. in recent weeks.

Recently, the CDC and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expanded passenger screenings to include 20 U.S. airports, which take in “90 percent of all passengers from China,” Vice President Pence said.

In recent weeks, Sen. Tom Cotton raised concerns about a Chinese cover-up of the virus as it spreads to various countries. In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Cotton urged Azar to vet information from China, given its history of cover-ups during the SARS outbreak. At the time, China didn’t announce the disease to the public until five months after it began.

“If you have reason to believe that U.S. officials are being provided with false or misleading information about the disease from Chinese government officials, I ask you to notify Congress immediately,” Cotton wrote.

How coronavirus differs from flu: Symptoms to watch for

Officials are urging anyone who develops possible symptoms of the novel coronavirus to contact health care providers to inquire about next steps and possible testing, but with millions infected by the influenza virus in the U.S., many are wondering how to tell the difference between the two.

“There is so much overlap in symptoms between flu and COVID-19 but a couple of hallmark differences do exist,” Dr. Caesar Djavaherian, co-founder of Carbon Health, told Fox News. “Influenza tends to cause much more body pain and the COVID-19 virus tends to feel much more like the common cold with fever, cough, runny nose and diarrhea. However, in a small portion of the population with either COVID-19 or influenza, symptoms progress to kidney failure and respiratory failure.”

By the end of February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that at least 32 million cases of the flu were reported in the U.S., resulting in 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths. For the coronavirus, by March 3 the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. had reached 100, including several presumptive positive cases and 24 in repatriated Americans. At least nine COVID-19 patients have died.

But several health officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have cautioned that healthy Americans who contract COVID-19 may not even know that they have it, and will heal without any treatment. Others say their experience will be similar to that of a common cold, but for those with underlying health conditions, the virus can be severe.

“The differences arise in the very small portion of the population who are at risk because of their lung or heart conditions whose lungs can fill with fluid or go into kidney failure and unfortunately, eventually die, with COVID-19,” Djavaherian said.

One of the most imperative ways to stop the spread, experts say, is to avoid contact with a sick person, and to practice your own good hygiene. Part of that includes staying home when you’re sick and thoroughly washing hands.

“If you are sick, monitor your symptoms daily, and when your common cold turns into a deep unrelenting cough and then shortness of breath, those are the signs that we worry about and the signs that require patients to get medical attention right away,” Djavaherian said. “They may be from pneumonia but in a very, very small group of patients, maybe a COVID-19 infection that has gone into the lungs.”

Djavaherian said it’s imperative to call your health care provider ahead of time to share your symptoms and concerns so that they can prepare the appropriate tests and protect others from potential exposure.

“I also recommend using telemedicine, where you can see a doctor via phone or video, to get your questions answered from the comfort and safety of your own home without putting others or yourself at risk,” he said.

How did the coronavirus outbreak start?

The World Health Organization’s China office says it began receiving reports in late December of a mysterious virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in eastern China with a population of roughly 11 million people.

Researchers suspect the virus originated at a seafood market in Wuhan, where wild animals, including birds, rabbits, bats, and snakes are traded.

It was initially believed the virus came from snakes. But a research paper by a team of virologists at the Wuhan Institute for Virology suggests that the coronavirus more likely came from bats, which was also the source of the SARS outbreak.

Bats are known to carry multiple viruses without getting sick, according to the New York Times, which said they have caused human diseases in Africa, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Australia, and are thought to be the reservoir for Ebola.

Authorities shut down the market on January 1. But by then, the virus had spread beyond the market and was being transmitted between people.

On January 12, Chinese health officials shared a genetic sequence of the virus with other countries to better diagnose the strain in patients.

A committee of the WHO on Thursday declared the outbreak a global emergency. The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

Such a declaration usually brings greater money and resources but also compels governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes stricter requirements for disease reporting on countries.

How is coronavirus transmitted?

“This virus has spread at unprecedented scale and speed, with cases passing between people in multiple countries across the world,” said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of Britain’s Welcome Trust. “It is also a start reminder of how vulnerable we are to epidemics of infectious diseases known and unknown.”

The United States and South Korea confirmed its first cases of person-to-person spread of the virus.

Scientists say transmission of the virus is most likely between people with close contact, like families. But there have been reported instances of people who may have had less exposure to the virus in Japan and Germany.

The coronavirus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS. Virologists believe it originated at a seafood market in the eastern Chinese town of Wuhan when someone or a group of people came into contact with wild animals being traded there.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are common in camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Person-to-person transmissions are thought to occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

Other ways the virus may spread from an infected person to others is through touching or shaking hands, or if a person touches a surface with the virus on it, then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes before washing their hands, the CDC says.

But despite the WHO’s declaration of emergency, the immediate heal risk to the general American public still remains relatively low.

Surgeon general say risk of coronavirus remains low, most people will not need hospitalization

The risk of contracting coronavirus remains low for most Americans, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams reassured.

In an interview on “America’s Newsroom” with host Laura Ingle, Adams said that the administration wants the public to know the risk of infection and be prepared, but not to panic in the process.

“What you’re going to hear from the president is what you’ve heard from him all along: that the risk to the average American of coronavirus at this time remains low,” he said. “However, we are seeing pockets in this country of increased cases of coronavirus. And so, we want people to prepare.”

Adams advised that Americans wash their hands frequently, cover a cough or sneeze, clean surfaces, and stay home if sick.

That said, Adams warned that wearing a mask was not just ineffective, it was potentially harmful and may increase the risk of getting the virus.

“We know that masks are not effective for the general public in keeping them safe from coronavirus and may actually increase their risk of getting coronavirus or the flu because if you don’t wear a mask properly you often will end up touching your face frequently and can increase your risk of exposure to a respiratory disease,” he explained.

“When you look at the people who are getting coronavirus, 80 percent of them are not needing to be hospitalized,” Adams continued. “They’re having a mild illness like the cold or like a minor flu.”

“Of the 20 percent who go on to need hospitalization or more medical care, we know that the folks who are most at risk tend to be people who are elderly and people who have medical problems: heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and chemotherapy,” he told Ingle.

“And so, what we want most of America to know is that you’re not at high risk for getting coronavirus, and if you do get it you are likely to recover. Ninety-eight, 99 percent of people are going to fully recover,” Adams said. “And, we want the people who are at-risk…to know that you need to take extra precautions, you need to be extra careful about keeping your hands clean and about social distancing — making sure you’re staying away from large gatherings and people who might be sick.”

How to protect yourself from coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that the risk to the public is currently low. But since scientists have confirmed the disease is indeed transmissible between humans, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

First, what is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are a large family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) — the latter of which also began in China and infected some 8,000 people during a 2002-2003 outbreak. At least 770 died after it spread to other cities and countries across the world.

Coronaviruses can spread between animals and people — meaning they are zoonotic. Officials have said the current outbreak , COVID-19, likely began at an animal and seafood market in Wuhan.

Know the signs

Symptoms of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, have been reported to include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, noted that the symptoms are similar to other respiratory infections. Most U.S. residents experiencing symptoms are likely infected with the flu or “some other virus,” he told Scientific American.

“But if they came from Wuhan,” he noted, “it’s likely to be the new coronavirus.”

“The symptoms are very common to a number of viruses, though, so [the association] is based on epidemiology [and is confirmed by the rRT-PCR test],” he added.

Keep your hands washed

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself from coronaviruses aside from following basic wellness practices.

The CDC recommends:

  •  Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  •  Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands
  • Avoid close contact with sick people

If you are sick, you can protect others by:

  • Staying home until you are well
  •  Avoiding close contact with others
  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Keep objects and surfaces in your home or workspace clean and disinfected

At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against coronavirus infections. That said, officials with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed to Fox News this week that they are working on a vaccine to combat the China-linked coronavirus.

Officials with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have obtained the genetic sequence of the virus from the Chinese to begin developing a vaccine, Fauci told Scientific American.

However, “That doesn’t mean we will have a vaccine ready for use in three months; even in an emergency, that would take a year or more,” he said.

EPA releases list of approved disinfectants to use against coronavirus

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of disinfectants that are “qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” a press release reads.

As coronavirus continues to expand throughout the U.S., keeping your home and surfaces clean is as crucial in preventing its spread as washing your hands.

“Using the correct disinfectant is an important part of preventing and reducing the spread of illnesses along with other critical aspects such as hand washing,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The products approved to fight against the virus were chosen through the Emerging Viral Pathogen program, which was developed in 2016 for rapid response to viral pathogen outbreaks.

Among the disinfectants on the list, are a number of professional and common household cleaners, such as Lysol and Clorox. Variants of the latter, available at most grocery stores, are Lysol Heavy Duty Cleaner Disinfectant Concentrate, Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner, Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach, and Clorox Disinfecting Bleaches, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, among others.

To see the full list of approved disinfectants, click here.

Some human coronaviruses can live on surfaces for 9 days, study finds

The novel coronavirus  may be able to live on surfaces, namely metal, glass or plastic, for up to nine days —  if it resembles some of its other human coronavirus-causing “cousins,” that is.

In an analysis of 22 studies on other human coronaviruses —  such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV) — researchers found the viruses can “persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days.” More specifically, the viruses can remain infectious on such materials between “two hours up to nine days,” according to the paper published in The Journal of Hospital Infection. 

The researchers also found that temperatures of 30 or 40 degrees Celsius (about 86 degrees Fahrenheit and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively) “reduced the duration of persistence” of some of the viruses.

What’s more, they also found that many of the coronaviruses studied could be “efficiently inactivated” by common household cleaners. Disinfectants “with 62-71 percent ethanol, 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide or 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite” — bleach — was able to inactive the viruses within a minute, according to the study.

“We expect a similar effect against the SARS-CoV-2,” or the novel coronavirus, researchers said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website warns human coronaviruses most commonly spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, close contact with an infected person (shaking hands, for example), but also by touching an object or surface that has been exposed to the virus, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with dirty hands.

Transmission via inanimate objects sparked concerns that imported goods from China could pose a health risk. But an infectious disease expert previously told Fox News it’s unlikely the virus will survive the journey from China to your front door.

“The virus on materials they ordered would not survive such a trip. Outside the body, we believe this virus only survives on [an] object minutes to an hour or so, not the days it takes your goods to travel the globe,”  Patricia A. Stinchfield, vice president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), told Fox News at the time. “As always after handling things, wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.”

Washing hands key in stopping coronavirus spread: Are you doing it correctly?

Countless officials have stressed the importance of hand-washing when it comes to preventing the further spread of coronavirus in the U.S., but how many of us know the proper way of doing so? There are a few general rules to follow when it comes to washing your hands thoroughly, including for how long you should keep them under running water.

“Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing,” Dr. Amy Fuller, director of Endicott College’s family nurse practitioner master’s degree program, told Fox News. “If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.”

Fuller said any kind of soap for hand-washing would do, but when it comes to hand sanitizer it is preferred that the product have at least 60 percent alcohol content to kill off any potentially dangerous germs.

COVID-19 is part of a larger family of coronaviruses, which means that if it behaves similarly to its “cousins,” so to speak, it may be able to live on surfaces for up to nine days. That means that if you work in a shared space environment, or share work equipment with others, there are some extra precautionary measures you should take.

“If you share a workstation/computer/laptop, make certain to clean all touching surfaces with a Clorox or Lysol wipe,” Fuller said.

The same is true for commuters who use public transportation, Fuller said.

“I would recommend to not touch any railings, seats on public transportation,” she said. “If you must, make certain you do not touch your mouth and nose and clean your hands as soon as you are able. For a long trip, you could consider wiping down your area with Clorox or Lysol wipes.”

The virus has infected more than 89,000 nationwide, and while the majority of cases have occurred in mainland China, there have been several instances of transmission in the U.S., including cases of unknown origin. There have been at least six deaths in Washington state.

One patient in San Antonio, Texas, was released before testing positive and being ordered back into quarantine. The patient reportedly visited several popular areas, raising concerns that even if you are taking precautions, others may still be putting you at risk. But Fuller said there are steps you can take to minimize that risk.

“We can assure ourselves we are being safe by cleaning all surfaces we have prolonged contact with, and washing hands frequently,” she said.

Even without the threat of coronavirus, Fuller said washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your mouth and nose are good hygiene practices for smart health.

Help prevent coronavirus with hand sanitizer: How to make your own

As the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus continues, demand for basic sanitary items — namely hand sanitizer — is increasing along with it.

Health professionals continue to stress that proper hand-washing is the best way to prevent viruses such as the novel coronavirus. But if soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer is the next best option — namely if it contains at least 60 percent alcohol, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

Can’t find hand sanitizer to purchase? Don’t fret — because you can make your own.

Anne Marie Helmenstine, who holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, recently shared how to make homemade hand sanitizer.

The ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • 8-10 drops essential oil, optional (such as lavender, vanilla, peppermint, grapefruit)
  • Bowl and spoon
  • Funnel
  • Recycled liquid soap or hand sanitizer bottle

Directions:

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and stir with a spoon. Use the funnel to pour the liquid into the empty bottle.

Do surgical masks protect against coronavirus?

Amid the deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus that began in China but has since spread around the globe, you may be wondering: Should I be wearing a face mask, and do they really work?

“Surgical masks will not prevent your acquiring diseases,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, and the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, to Fox News.

Rather, he explained, surgical masks are typically used by surgeons to protect their patients from their mouth-borne germs —  but “those masks don’t work to prevent inhaling diseases,” said Schaffner.

The masks, which cover the nose and mouth, are often made from a flimsy material and aren’t fitted to the face. In other words, spaces and gaps can form around the cheeks and edges of the mouth, making it easy for air to move in and out.

“When coughing, you can feel the puffs of air coming out of the mask,” he said.

That said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently recommending anyone infected with the novel coronavirus or being tested for it to wear a surgical mask when in public. And one infectious disease physician told The New York Times the masks could block “large respiratory droplets” from entering your body when an infected person sneezes or coughs. These large droplets are largely behind the spread of coronaviruses, the physician said.

A more protective mask, known as an N95 respirator, may be more effective, said Schaffner.  But, he noted, a non-medical professional using this mask is likely not using it correctly, doing little to prevent the spread of illness or inhaling a disease.

“The chance of the average person going into a pharmacy, wearing them correctly and for long periods of time is unlikely,” he said.

As for more preventative measures, Schaffner recommends “abundant hand-washing” —  which you can make sure you are doing correctly here. Other ways to stay safe can also be found here. 

In East Asia — namely in countries such as China, Taiwan, and Japan, among others — surgical masks are not only worn by sick people hoping to prevent the spread of illness but also for air-quality reasons as well as after natural disasters, according to a 2014 report on the history of surgical mask usage in Asia.

Coronavirus: Who is most at-risk?

After the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, medical professionals have examined what physiological archetypes and age groups might have a greater risk of contracting the disease, in an effort to educate the public.

Fox News spoke with Dr. Debra Chew, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, to gain a better understanding of the virus and how it behaves.

“Risks of contracting disease is based on epidemiologic exposure — and therefore exposure to persons infected with the Wuhan Coronavirus, and those ill with respiratory symptoms who have traveled to Wuhan or neighboring cities,” she said. “This may expand with more cases and global travel.”

Chew, who completed an Infectious Diseases fellowship at Albert Einstein/Montefiore Medical Center, said it’s unclear if pregnant women are at greater risk than others, but confirmed that young people, senior citizens and those with immune deficiencies could have an acute reaction if exposed to the virus.

“We are not clear if there are other host risks, including risk of transmission to various groups of people including pregnant women and different age groups,” she said. “We do know that the young, elderly and those with immuno-compromised host immune system and chronic medical conditions can get more severe illness.”

As for the virus having an incubation period, Chew said the timetable is unclear, but estimated that anyone who’s been infected should become symptomatic within five days.

“Generally, coronaviruses as a family have a short incubation period of up to five days, and recent cases with Wuhan Coronavirus is consistent with this,” she explained. “CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and WHO [World Health Organization] are actively investigating much more about the virus and illness characteristics.”

Most coronaviruses cause only mild symptoms, similar to that of the common cold. Other strains, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), can cause pneumonia and death.

It has been three weeks since Chinese officials announced the outbreak of the new virus. More than 600 people have been sickened and 17 have died since then.

The coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, began at an animal and seafood market in Wuhan and has spread to several other countries, including the United States. The illness is said to be transferable between humans.

Are pregnant women at risk for coronavirus?

The U.S. is currently in the midst of an active flu season, and while pregnant women have long been warned about the potential risks of contracting the influenza virus, the question of how dangerous the novel coronavirus may be has started to arise. Because COVID-19 is so new to health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently does not have information from published scientific reports about the susceptibility of pregnant women to the virus.

“Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19,” the health agency warns. “Pregnant women might also be at risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza during pregnancy.”

The health agency said that while risk to the American public remains low at this time, pregnant women should continue to engage in usual preventative actions to avoid infection, such as washing hands often and avoiding contact with people who are sick. It also advises health facilities to isolated pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19 from other patients.

Symptoms of the coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath and fever, the last of which can cause issues for pregnant women. Those who develop high fever during the first trimester of pregnancy can be at an increased risk for certain birth defects, according to the CDC.

“We do not have information on information on adverse pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women with COVID-19,” the CDC said. “Pregnancy loss, including miscarriage and stillbirth, has been observed in cases of infection with other related coronaviruses [SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV] during pregnancy.”

There have also been several reports out of China of possible vertical transmission between an infected mother and infant during childbirth, but they have since been disputed. The CDC said this remains an unknown factor, but that in a small case series, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk. There is also limited data on whether infants born to mothers with COVID-19 are at risk for adverse or long-term health effects.

Regardless, infants born to mothers with confirmed COVID-19 should be isolated, according to the CDC.

What is known, is that the COVID-19 virus is spread from person to person mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Women who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are encouraged to take “all possible precautions” to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing hands and wearing a face mask if possible while breastfeeding, according to the CDC.

Is it coronavirus or a cold? How to safely care for a sick relative

Health officials are urging anyone who feels ill to isolate and stay home as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to spread in the U.S., but what about those who already require care assistance or are too young to care for themselves? For those patients and their caretakers, the guidance may be murky, as is trying to tell the difference between COVID-19 symptoms and the cold and flu.

“The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses that have similar symptoms,” Dr. Macklin E. Guzman, DHSc, MPH, epidemiologist, global health expert and medi-weightloss principal clinical scientist, told Fox News. “If a family household member falls ill and starts exhibiting symptoms that resemble a respiratory illness (e.g. fever, cough, shortness of breath), it is important that his or her health care provider be contacted so that they can be evaluated.”

Guzman said health care providers can determine whether a COVID-19 test needs to be administered and that you should not assume that a family member has coronavirus without a laboratory-confirmed test. He added that those who are healthy and do not have a compromised immune system can continue to safely care for these patients as they are not considered to be at high risk for developing complications.

Even if the patient does test positive, it can be considered safe to continue supporting them with some extra precautions.

“It is generally safe if you follow safeguards to minimize the spread of infection and keep a safe distance from your family member that is ill,” Guzman said.

The precautions, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Guzman, can include making sure the patient is following their health care provider’s instructions for medication and care, helping them with getting groceries or prescriptions and helping to monitor their symptoms for any signs of worsening illness.

Household members should wear a facemask around the patient and stay in a separate room and be separated as much as possible. Visitors should also be prohibited in the home, and patients should not care for household pets while sick.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 is to follow all the same basic practices that are important to protecting yourselves from the flu,” he said. “These practices can apply both inside and outside of the home.”

According to the CDC, those include washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue. It’s also advised to practice cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Once the patient has begun to improve, it’s still important to take steps in minimizing secondary transmission.

“The decision to discontinue home isolation precautions should be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with health care providers,” Guzman said. “If you are living under the same roof as a family member with confirmed COVID-19 it is best to continue to follow distance precautions as mentioned above by the CDC.”

As always, Guzman said, if you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should make an effort to stay away from people whose immune systems could be compromised in any way, including newborns, toddlers, those who are on immunosuppressive drugs, cancer patients, elderly patients, those who have had major surgery or are chronically ill, and those with chronic respiratory issues.

“Although nursing home residents greatly enjoy having visitors, it’s better to stay away if you’re suffering from a cold or flu and have symptoms such as uncontrollable coughing and sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, congestion or fever,” Guzman said. “Anyone who visits a nursing home should wash his or her hands or use hand sanitizer upon entering the home, use your sleeve or tissue to open doorknobs, and avoid touching surfaces whenever possible.”

Coronavirus testing can be uncomfortable

Getting tested for the coronavirus is far more difficult and uncomfortable than swabbing for the common flu, doctors and medical experts told The Post.

“You’re sticking a swab all the way to the back of the nose or throat and it’s uncomfortable for maybe five or 10 seconds,” said Dr. Lewis Kohl, a director of CareMount Medical in New York.

Flu samples, by contrast, are easily taken from the mouth, he said.

Before being tested for the deadly virus, patients must first answer a series of questions, including where they have been and if they are experiencing shortness of breath, or have been exposed to someone with the virus, Kohl said.

If a doctor determines a patient to be “a person under suspicion” for the virus, a nasal or throat swab is then performed to obtain a sample.

In rare cases, doctors may also try to get mucus from hard-to-reach parts of the respiratory tract, which may involve intubation or spraying saline mist into the lungs, Kohl said.

“If there’s not enough of [a sample] we might need to go deeper,” he said. “The saline is a really salty fluid that causes you to bring up sputum — big yellow goobers deep in your lungs.”

“That can be unpleasant because you’re forcing someone to inhale this nasty stuff,” he added.

Dr. William Haseltine, a US-China Health Summit chair and former Harvard Medical School professor, added that the more invasive respiratory testing is only conducted in cases when doctors determine “somebody can’t provide sample results with the more standard tests.”

How do you treat coronavirus?

Fox News received an in-depth look at the new disease from Dr. Debra Chew, a former epidemic intelligence officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School to find out what someone infected with the virus can do to overcome it.

Currently, the pneumonia-like virus — like many viruses — has no specific cure. Since it is a new illness, there is no vaccine, and it will likely take years before one is developed, according to Chew.

Infected patients should treat symptoms the same way they would a cold — with rest, pain or fever medication and plenty of fluids.

Though coronaviruses, named for their crown-like shape, have been around for years, the Wuhan coronavirus has not previously been identified in humans. The virus can cause other respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, or more severe illnesses such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

MERS first appeared in 2012 in Saudi Arabia and then in other countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe, and about 858 people died as a result of the outbreak. In 2003, 774 people died from a SARS outbreak.

“Currently, a lot is unknown about the Wuhan coronavirus, but the CDC and the World Health Organization are actively investigating to learn more about this virus, the way it spreads and its severity of illness,” Chew told Fox News.

‘No known effective’ treatments for coronavirus despite reports, WHO says

The World Health Organization (WHO) said despite several reports and claims of breakthrough research on the treatment front, there remains no known treatment for the coronavirus.

China’s Zhejiang University claimed to have found an effective drug for the virus. But, when asked about the recent reports, WHO was quick to shut them down.

“There are no known effective therapeutics against this 2019-nCoV (virus) and the WHO recommends enrollment into a randomized controlled trial to test efficacy and safety,” WHO spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic said, according to Reuters.

Jasarevic’s response echoes advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reiterates that there is no vaccine to prevent the coronavirus and that those infected should receive supportive care to relieve symptoms.

Gilead, a U.S.-based drugmaker, said it has started clinical trials of an experimental drug called remdesivir on infected patients in China, but stressed that it’s still in the investigational stage.

“It is not approved anywhere globally,” a spokesman told Reuters.

The first confirmed coronavirus patient in the U.S., a Washington man who was diagnosed after returning to from a trip to Wuhan, China, was first given supportive care for treatment before he was also started on remdesivir, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Treatment with intravenous remdesivir was initiated on the evening of day 7, and no adverse events were observed in association with the infusion,” his case report said.

A day later, his symptoms improved and he has since been discharged from the hospital to continue recovering in isolation at home.

Multiple organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, have begun work on vaccines, but development is in the early stages. However, researchers may find an advantage in looking at work already done on the SARS and MERS viruses, which originate from the same family as the 2019-nCoV.

“It normally takes years to develop a vaccine and bring it to the point that it is approved for use in humans,” Professor Brenda Hogue, of the Biodesign Institute Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy at Arizona State University, told Newsweek. “However, a significant amount of work has already been done toward the development of vaccines against 2019-nCoV.”

Can coronavirus spread through your Amazon packages?

Surgeon General Jerome Adams, a member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, reacted on Thursday to the fact that an Amazon employee in Seattle contracted the novel coronavirus, saying: “There is no evidence right now that the coronavirus can be spread through mail.”

Amazon said the employee is the first among its U.S. workforce to fall ill with COVID-19, which has infected thousands of people around the world. It was not immediately clear how the employee contracted the virus.

The news comes after at least two Amazon employees in Italy – which has seen a surge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks – were confirmed to have the virus as well, according to Bloomberg.

“We heard [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director] Tony Fauci, the world’s expert in this area, comment on this and there is no evidence right now that the coronavirus can be spread through mail, no other coronavirus has been spread through mail,” Adams said on Thursday, responding to fears.

A statement from Amazon said, “We are recommending that employees in Seattle/ Bellevue who are able to work from home do so through the end of the month.”

“Here’s what I want people to know, Seattle actually has a lot of cases because of the nursing home situation, there is community spread going on there, it is much more likely that the person who works at Amazon in Seattle got it in the community than that he got it through the mail,” Adams said on Thursday.

Adams referenced the fact that the majority of cases in Washington involve patients who are residents of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, where there is currently an outbreak. A Kirkland nursing home resident with underlying medical conditions died last week after the patient was confirmed to have the virus two days before, according to University of Washington Medicine.

He went on to explain the measures people can take to protect themselves, including washing hands with soap for 20 seconds, covering a cough and staying away from people who are sick.

“Most people who get coronavirus are going to have a mild illness. It will be like a bad cold or the flu and most people are going to recover,” Adams said. “I want people to remember, 18,000 people have died from the flu in the United States this year. We are just over 100 people who have gotten the coronavirus.”

On Thursday, Adams pointed to a recent tweet where he wrote, “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

“We’re going to see more cases. Unfortunately, we’re likely to see more deaths,” Adams noted, adding that if people and companies take precautionary measures it will help contain the number of cases and deaths.

“There are things institutions can do to minimize large gatherings and help keep their people safe,” he went on to say.

Traveling amid the coronavirus outbreak: What you need to know

Concerns over COVID-19 are steadily growing now that the novel coronavirus has spread to every continent — with the exception of Antarctica. And as the virus grows globally, being smart about planning travel, be it domestic or international, and how to protect yourself is crucial.

Here are some helpful guidelines to follow.

Do your research

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of State have been updating their travel warnings as the virus continues to spread to regions across the globe. Before planning your itinerary, check the CDC’s Health Notices and the State Department’s Travel Advisories for any guidance on where – or where not – to visit.

Several airlines and cruise lines have also suspended or altered their service to specific airports and ports of call. Remember to consult with your travel providers to ensure there won’t be any changes in service to your destination.

Many U.S. airlines are also extending travel waivers for ticketholders scheduled to fly to coronavirus-affected destinations, allowing them to rebook, or cancel their travel altogether, without incurring additional fees.

The State Department has a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which keeps travelers aware of any situation changes.

What to pack

Travel with all necessary travel documentation, including health insurance cards, a press release from AAA recommends. Also, plan ahead by packing extra supplies such as additional doses of medication or clothing in case your trip is delayed due to the outbreak.

Disinfect your plane seat

Coronavirus can be spread person to person. To minimize your risk while flying, make sure to properly clean your plane seat by using using a pack of antibacterial wipes with alcohol to wipe down everything in your personal area, including the tray table, armrests, seatbelt handle, air vents and call buttons. Disinfecting these “high touch” areas is a surefire way to fight germs, according to Ohio State University infectious disease specialist Debra A. Goff, Pharm.D., who spoke with Reader’s Digest. The same cleaning practice can be applied to train or bus seats.

A 2018 study of aircraft cleanliness further suggested that seats’ headrests may be the germiest surfaces on the plane, with some testing positive for E. coli bacteria — so you may want to invest in a reusable seat cover that can be placed over your seat, and then thrown it in the wash after use.

Be careful what you touch

Respiratory illnesses, like coronavirus, generally spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva or mucus. Droplets from a sneeze or cough can land on surfaces and potentially infect a nearby passenger sharing the enclosed space.

To avoid contact, do not touch shared or potentially germ-ridden surfaces and avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands. When you are able, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

You cannot always control your environment while traveling, but you can at least keep your own personal items clean and disinfected to minimize your chances of infection. Always travel with disinfecting wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if possible, to wipe down surfaces and clean your hands if a sink is not immediately available.

Know the signs

If you do get sick while traveling, it is important to know the signs of coronavirus and seek immediate medical attention if you believe you have contracted the virus.

Symptoms of the pneumonialike illness include fever, cough and shortness of breath. It is important to note, however, that the coronavirus symptoms are common to a number of viruses.

“If you think you may have been exposed, call your health care professional immediately and tell them your travel history. Calling first is important so they can be prepared. Do not go directly to the hospital, where you may infect other people,” Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told Fox News.

Get travel insurance

Finally, consider travel insurance when booking your trip. Though most travel insurances only cover outbreaks in specific instances, having insurance coverage with a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy can help save you some money if you need to cancel your itinerary due to medical reasons or another emergency.

How does coronavirus compare to SARS and MERS outbreaks?

The new virus is from the coronavirus family, which includes those viruses that can cause the common cold, as well as more serious illnesses such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Here is how the dangerous new virus compares with other deadly global epidemics.

The new virus comes from a large family of coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. But in late 2002, a coronavirus named SARS erupted in southern China, causing severe pneumonia that rapidly spread to other countries. It infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 — and then it disappeared, thanks to public health measures.

In 2012, another coronavirus dubbed MERS began sickening people in Saudi Arabia. It’s still hanging around, causing small numbers of infections each year. The World Health Organization has counted nearly 2,500 cases of MERS in the Middle East and beyond, and more than 850 deaths.

SARS and MERS came from animals, and this newest virus almost certainly did, too. The first people infected with the coronavirus visited or worked at a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

SARS was initially traced to civet cats sold in a live animal market, but scientists later decided it probably originated in bats that infected the cats. People can catch MERS from infected camels, although again, bats likely first spread that coronavirus to camels, too.

The animal-to-human jump is a huge concern for all kinds of viruses. Every so often, new strains of bird flu make the jump from Asian live poultry markets to people, for example.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.

The SARS virus killed about 10 percent of people who caught it.

Coronavirus fits criteria for ‘Disease X,’ WHO expert says

The novel coronavirus has led one expert to say that it fits the criteria for “Disease X,” a designated placeholder on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of illnesses that have potential to reach international epidemic levels.

“Disease X is a term that was coined by WHO,” Marion Koopmans, a member of WHO’s emergency committee, and head of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, told Fox News. “After the Ebola crisis in West Africa, they did an in-depth evaluation on what went wrong, and the so-called R&D blueprint for emerging disease was developed.”

“Disease X” was added to WHO’s “Prioritizing diseases for research and development in emergency contexts” list of illnesses that includes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), Ebola and Marburg virus disease, Lassa Fever, MERS, SARS, Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever and Zika.

“There is a number of diseases on that list that we know, but also ‘Disease X,’” she told Fox News. “That is meant to alert the world to think about how to prepare for these diseases.”

Under its definition, the health agency noted that “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease, and so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown ‘Disease X’ as far as possible.”

COVID-19, as it’s been named by WHO, “fits the Disease X category,” Koopmans wrote in the journal Cell last week.

According to Koopmans, it’s the first time a disease fits the criteria for “Disease X” since the blueprint was created in 2016.

Koopmans said the blueprint helps the agency think ahead to what possible threats may be looming so that it can better prepare to handle a widespread pandemic or outbreak. It also helps the agency prepare for funding needs and ways to fast-track vaccine development.

And while the agency declined to label the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, Koopmans said that it has little relevance as to whether it would qualify as “Disease X.”

“Pandemic simply means there is global widespread circulation,” she said. “The blueprint diseases can also be a disease with regional major impact.”

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the past few weeks have demonstrated “just how quickly a new virus can spread around the world and cause widespread fear and disruption.”

Still, as new countries report cases of coronavirus, experts caution that not every case may stem from China.

“Many different countries around the world may be sources of COVID-19 infections,” Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, told The Associated Press. “This makes it much harder for any one country to detect and contain.”

Is the novel coronavirus here to stay?

Could the novel coronavirus one day be as commonplace as the seasonal flu?

Despite rigorous containment efforts, medical experts working to understand the virus, now known as COVID-19, have acknowledged such a possibility — including Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who said this week the virus “is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year.”

When speaking to Fox News, Dr. William Schaffner, the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), also recognized the possibility, but quickly noted it’s likely too soon to know for sure.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, and if it behaves like other respiratory viruses, including influenza [the flu], we might anticipate that it will abate as the weather gets warmer,” he said. But, he added, “It may become part of our usual cold and flu season.”

That said, “We can’t be sure,” he said.

“It’s a new virus, and it may not have read the textbooks. That’s why the current, ongoing research to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs that are effective against coronaviruses is so important,” he continued.

The virus is new in humans — meaning medical experts at this time “cannot predict the long-term impact on the global community,” Schaffner said. “We are now in the containment phase and are working to restrict the virus’ spread in the U.S. and internationally.”

“Clinicians are rapidly diagnosing cases, putting patients in isolation and providing medical care. Public health officials are tracking contacts and testing them for the virus. So far, we have had very few cases in the U.S., and they have been close contacts of confirmed cases. We are seeing a similar response around the world,” he added.

In collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, updates the daily Coronavirus statistics worldwide through this link 

Originally published by Fox News

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