An outbreak of Coronavirus in China has been declared an international emergency. The count of victims is already going to hundreds. Every day, news comes of an increase in the number of infected around the world. The first carriers of the deadly virus were found in Russia. This article will tell you how to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.
The first 2019-nCoV coronavirus cases began to appear in Hubei Province in central China. According to experts, the disease was transmitted to humans from animals. Presumably, the source was the seafood market in Wuhan (the capital of Hubei province), where they actively traded not only fish, but also such unusual delicacies as marmots, snakes and bats. Scientists who studied the 2019-nCoV found: the coronavirus isolated from a seriously ill patient is very close to the coronavirus whose bats are the carrier.
2019-nCoV belongs to the family of coronaviruses that previously caused outbreaks of the Sars epidemic (known as SARS) in 2003, as well as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) in 2012.
The first death from pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus was recorded in Wuhan on January 11. The number of confirmed infections at that time was about 40 people. By January 31, the death toll was already 213 people, and infected – more than 9700. But if we ignore specific numbers, then in mid-January the virus spread exponentially with a coefficient of 1.5, which towards the end of the month fell to 1.3 (then there is every next day the number of infected increases by about 30%).
So far, infected have been detected not only in all areas of the PRC, but also in any other country. In Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States, there have been cases of transmission of coronavirus from person to person.
Now the governments of different countries are taking emergency measures. The United States put China on the red list of states that tourists should not visit, and Italy altogether ceased flights to China. Other countries also recommended that their citizens refuse to travel until this pandemic is over.
Symptoms and risk groups
Like other respiratory viruses, coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through drops that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can also get infected through objects that the patient touched, such as door handles. As scientists found out, one patient with new coronavirus pneumonia infects 13 people on average (for seasonal flu, this figure is about 1.3). At the moment, 13% of cases are fatal. For comparison: mortality from SARS was 9%, from the Middle East respiratory syndrome.
The incubation period is from 7 to 26 days. The carrier of the virus may not yet show any symptoms, but it may already be contagious. The danger of a new disease also lies in the fact that it is easy to confuse it with a common cold or flu. Patients complain of tiredness, shortness of breath, high fever, cough and sore throat.
People of all ages are at risk of contracting the virus, but observations show that young people are more likely to cope with the effects of infection. The chances of getting sick are high and irreversible most in children, the elderly and those who have weakened immunity due to other diseases.
The Lancet Medical Journal analysed 99 clinical cases recorded in a hospital in Wuhan from January 1 to 20. According to these observations, the average age of patients is 55.5 years, of which 67 are men, 32 are women. Half of the patients had chronic diseases before – cardiovascular, cerebrovascular accident or diabetes. All patients had pneumonia, fever and cough. Among the symptoms were muscles ache and headache, confusion, sore throat and chest pain, diarrhoea, and nausea. Patients received antiviral drugs, antibiotics, oxygen therapy. 11 of them died from multiple organ failure.
How not to get infected
To protect yourself from the virus, you need to follow simple tips. First of all, we are talking about basic hygiene.
– Wash your hands and keep the objects you use clean. Since the virus is transmitted not only by airborne droplets, but also by contact, you should not only often wash your hands thoroughly, but also use disinfectants. Phones, keyboards, remotes, door handles, elevator buttons, handrails, and shopping carts can be dangerous.
– Try not to touch your face with unwashed hands, because the infection can enter the body not only through the mouth and nose, but even through the eyes. Do not forget that a person unconsciously touches their face about 15 times per hour.
– Wear medical masks. Although this is far from 100% protection, it is worth using not only sick but also healthy. Wet and dirty masks must be changed, and after touching the used mask, wash your hands.
– Sneeze and cough gently. The nose and mouth must not be covered by hand. It is better to use disposable wipes or sneeze into a bent elbow. You should also stay away from sneezing and coughing people.
– Tell your children about hygiene rules, for example, about not sharing your toothbrush with others. It is worth making sure that everyone in the family has their own towel.
– For the time being, give up handshakes and welcome kisses.
– You should also refuse treats that must be taken from the general packaging or utensils. This usually applies to nuts, chips and other snacks in bars. Indeed, many people take snacks without even washing their hands.
These tips will help protect yourself not only from the new coronavirus, but also from the more common SARS or flu.
Of course, it is also not recommended to go to the country where the source of infection appeared. However, those who still decided to go to China or are now there, the Ministry of Health urges not to visit markets where animals and seafood are sold, not to go to zoos and animal shows, as well as eat only cooked food and drink water from a bottle. At the slightest suspicion of infection, you should immediately consult a doctor.
How to treat
Scientists have already developed rapid tests that allow you to determine in just a few minutes whether a person is sick with a new type of coronavirus. Without the vaccine against the virus, everything is more complicated – work on its creation is in full swing, but this is a long process. Even if the vaccine is made, clinical trials must be performed before use.
According to a leading researcher at the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology named after N.F. Gamalei of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation Nikolai Malyshev, the vaccine from 2019-nCoV can appear, according to the most optimistic forecasts, only in a year.
So far, in the fight against the disease, the Ministry of Health in different countries recommends using Ribavirin (an antiviral drug for treating severe infections), Lopinavir / Ritonavir (used to treat HIV infection), and recombinant interferon beta-1b (an antiviral and anti-inflammatory drug for subcutaneous injection).
Note that with news of new infections and deaths, messages come about recovered patients. According to the latest information, more than 97,000 people have been recovered of the coronovirus.