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TTUHSC Experts Weigh in on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)

Last updated: 03-11-20 

 

What is it:

  • On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially labeled COVID-19 a pandemic.
  • On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially name the new coronavirus disease COVID-19. “COVI” comes from coronavirus. The “D” stands for disease and the 19 represents 2019, the year the virus was first identified.
  • Coronavirus is like a cold virus that typically leads to upper respiratory infections.
  • Coronavirus is not a new virus, but this is a new strain which started in December 2019.
  • It is closely related to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus seen in 2003.
  • Information suggests it’s been around for at least 8,000 years. The first human case described was actually in 1965.
  • The word coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like shape surface projections you can see in electronic microscopy images. Corona is derived from Latin meaning crown.

Who is at Risk:

  • Anyone who is displaying symptoms and has travelled to areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days or has been exposed to someone who was there within the same timeframe.
  • Patients who may be immunocompromised are more prone to getting severe infections with any respiratory virus, not just coronavirus. 

Symptoms and treatment:

  • Cold-like symptoms—runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, respiratory failure.
  • Most of the time, symptoms are non-specific and people handle it well.  
  • There is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19.
  • It is estimated that it would take at least 12 – 18 months to develop an effective vaccine.
  • Currently, testing takes about seven to 10 days. 

How is it spread? The CDC says:

  • In the air by coughing and sneezing exposing others to air droplets.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands. 

Safety tips:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Decontaminate surfaces that someone with a respiratory illness may have touched.
  • Stay away from people with respiratory illnesses.
  • If you’re traveling, be extra careful with what you eat or drink or expose yourself to.
  • Follow the advice of travel physicians or reputable experts before traveling to other countries. 

If you have a respiratory illness:

  • Cough into your arm to avoid exposing others.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Get information from local, state or national public health experts. 

Should I be worried?

  • Health experts say be concerned and smart, but there is no need to panic about COVID-19. Mortality rates remain relatively low at 3.4 percent (this number fluctuates daily), according to WHO. Those who have died are the patients who are more at risk of mortality with any infection—those with compromised immune systems, are elderly or have cancer, lung disease or kidney disease.
  • So far, no children under the age of 10 have been identified as having COVID-19.
  • Most Americans are more at risk of getting influenza or measles and there are vaccines for both. The number of influenza deaths this year is estimated to be around 20,000.
  • Highly unlikely to be transmitted between humans and domesticated animals. 

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