As the pandemic keeps spreading, an increasing number of questions are rising about the COVID-19, as a lot of facts are still unknown. What is the true fatality rate ? In the beginning, it was officially said it is much lower that that of the common flu. Today, experts are saying that it might be 10 times higher than that. Most people who tested positive with the virus have have been moderately ill and recovered. But the virus is much more serious for the elderly and those who have health issues. And that is a huge number of people…
HOW DOES IT SPREAD ?
Most of the spreading comes from droplets produced when an infected person coughs, or even exhales, which are inhaled by surrounding people. Also, these droplets land on surfaces.
Transmission from touching contaminated surfaced has not been proven yet, though recent tests by scientists suggest it is possible. That is why it is recommended to wash hands frequently and not to touch your face.
That is why there is a big concern about crowded places, like gym clubs. You should also know that the risk of virus transmission from food servers is as high as any other.
HOW LONG CAN THE VIRUS SURVIVE ?
Nothing is certain in that area. What we know till now is that it can live in the air for several hours, up several days on surfaces. Cleaning surfaces with solutions containing diluted bleach should kill it. It varies under different conditions like temperature and humidity level.
HOW FAST DOES IT SPREAD ?
It is believed that on average, each infected person will spread the virus to 2 or 3 others. So it spreads more easily than flu, but less than other illnesses such as measles or tuberculosis. We don’t know for sure if the virus spreads less among children, but numbers show that fewer of them have been diagnosed with the disease. They might also carry it without showing symptoms. In China, only 0.9% of cases were younger than 15.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS ?
Most people will get fever and cough, sometimes fatigue or shortness of breath, and will recover after about 2 weeks.
About 15% will develop severe disease, including pneumonia, even though symptoms may start slowly. Most of those have underlying health problems. Smokers are bound to be more affected than others.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE ?
Most people infected have described symptoms similar to the common flu or cold. But some have described worse feelings with a heavy head while walking, being unable to breathe normally and feeling nauseous.
WHAT IS THE TEST LIKE ?
If you are tested, you should get your nose and throat swabbed. Samples will be sent to a lab that will look for traces of viral genetic material. It should take 4 to 6 hours in the best scenario. However, getting a report back with the result might take several days.
WHEN IS THE VIRUS MOST CONTAGIOUS ?
The average time of exposure before developing symptoms is 5 to 6 days, but it can go up to 2 weeks. Tests have found high amounts of virus in the throats and noses of people tested before they showed symptoms. There can also be signs of the virus in the stools of a recovered patients up to weeks after his recovery.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF ?
- Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 1.5 meters distance between yourself and others when in public spaces.
- Avoid touching your face. Your hands pick up all kinds of elements when you touch things. You can therefore infect yourself with your own hands.
- Follow a good respiratory hygiene, which means covering your face with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose immediately of the tissue and wash your hands.
- Stay at home if you feel unwell, or if you don’t need to leave the house. If you need medical attention, call in advance to follow procedure.
- Stay at home if you have diabetes, heart or lung disease, or if you have low immunity, as you have a higher chance of catching COVID-19.
HOW DEADLY IS THE VIRUS ?
Unfortunately, we won’t know that until large studies are done to test big groups of people. Experts have estimated the fatality rate from less than 1% to as high as 4% among cases diagnosed, depending on location. Flu kills about 0.1% of those infected, so COVID-19 seems to be about 10 times more lethal. Overall, the death rate has been higher among people with other health problems – more than 10% for those with heart disease for example. It is also higher with people with obesity and suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure.
ARE THERE ANY MEDICINE OR THERAPIES THAT PREVENT OR CURE COVID-19 ?
While some traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence of any medicine to prevent or cure the disease. Self-medication is not recommended, including antibiotics.
SHOULD I WEAR A MASK TO PROTECT MYSELF ?
You should only wear a mask if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you are taking care of someone who might be infected. Disposable face masks can be used only once. If you are not infected, then you are wasting masks, and people may need them in the future ! There is a shortage of masks world-wide because of irrational use of masks. The most effective way to protect yourself is hygiene, and staying at a safe distance from people sneezing or coughing.
CAN RECOVERED PEOPLE GET INFECTED AGAIN ?
We don’t know. Reports from China say that some people who go infected and recovered, fell ill again. It is unclear if it is a relapse or a new infection. Scientist say that the genetic code of the virus changes slightly every 15 days, and we don’t know how this mutation could seem different enough for the human immune system not to recognize the virus the 2nd time.
WILL IT GO AWAY IN THE SUMMER ?
Flu fades away each spring, and we hope that the new virus may do the same, and that with warmer weather, we will see a decline in spreading. But there is no certainty to that so far. Also, if the coronavirus acts like the flu, and keeps mutating, it could circulate around the world for many years to come.