Coronavirus Facts You Should Know by Now

By : Dr. Amir Petrus Dawood

It is highly unlikely that you do not already know a lot about coronavirus, the global pandemic currently rolling across the globe. These are some of facts about this virus:

1. Symptoms vary depending on the individual—and some people do not show any signs at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) originally released a list of common coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But now, the CDC has added new symptoms, including chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste and smell.

Doctors have also reported strange coronavirus symptoms they’ve seen on the front lines: purple, blue, or red lesions on feet and toes, a fizzing sensation on the skin, pink eye, and confusion, among others. Some people are also asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any signs of sickness or infection.

2. There are no approved cures or vaccines till now.

3. Men are more likely to die from coronavirus than women. As COVID-19 spreads, doctors are seeing a drastic difference in how men and women are affected. “75 percent of the hospital’s intensive care patients and those on ventilators are men.” Doctors are now conducting studies using hormones predominantly found in women—like estrogen and progesterone, the latter of which has anti-inflammatory properties—to try to treat patients.

4. Minorities are more at risk of coronavirus. Sure, anyone can contract coronavirus, but data shows that some ethnic groups are more at risk of dying from the pandemic than others. This is due to a variety of factors, including a systemic lack of health care, reliance on public transportation in urban areas, and job inflexibility that does not permit or allow for self-quarantining.

5. Coronavirus can cause young adults to have strokes. Doctors have seen a slew of coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s suffering from sudden strokes, a condition that is most often seen in senior citizens (the median age for a severe stroke is 74).

6. High blood pressure could be at greater risk of COVID-19. Researchers examined 5,700 coronavirus patients in New York and found one condition they had in common: high blood pressure. The resulting study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in association with New York-based Northwell Health, found that the most common comorbidities among those with COVID-19 were hypertension (56.6 percent), obesity (41.7 percent), and diabetes (33.8 percent). .

7. It poses a greater risk to people with obesity. While it’s well known that the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems are at a greater risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus, less discussed is the fact that obesity and diabetes can also make people more susceptible. “Patients with diabetes are more susceptible to severe complications from viral infections of any kind, and as a result, are considered a high risk population for COVID-19,” says Rocio Salas-Whalen, MD, of New York Endocrinology.

8. One in three test results are false-negative. If your coronavirus test comes back negative, don’t celebrate just yet. One in three negative test results are defective, according to an April report by The Wall Street Journal. This high false-negative rate could be due to how fast manufacturers created and distributed the tests, lacking the time needed for health regulators to thoroughly vet the test themselves

9. You can contract coronavirus twice. Countries around the world are considering “immunity passports,” or official government documents allowing those who have recovered from coronavirus to return to work. But that may not be the wisest move as you could potentially get coronavirus again. The World Health Organization (WHO) released a scientific brief on April 24 stating, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” With that in mind, people should continue safe social distancing and hygiene habits.

10. Air conditioning spreads COVID-19 faster. The CDC released a new report that linked a January outbreak in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, to its air conditioning unit. Although the affected families were sitting apart from each other, 10 people got sick because “the restaurant’s air conditioners blew the virus particles around the dining room,” according to The New York Times.

“Since most air conditioning systems cannot filter out exceedingly small droplets—so the droplets could be recirculated back to indoor spaces—one should be concerned about the use of air conditioning systems.

11. Holding your breath is not a valid test for coronavirus. This is proof that you should not believe everything you see on the internet. A social media post went viral after claiming that if you are able to hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing or feeling pain, then you don’t have COVID-19.

12. COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to three days. Sure, you know that you don’t want to grab the seat at the coffee shop next to someone who’s coughing away, but have you stopped to think about who was sitting at your table before you… even as long as three days ago? The truth is, coronavirus can live on surfaces long after an infected person has left. A new study from the National Institutes of Health found that coronavirus can live on plastic and stainless steel for as long as three days.

13. There could be a second wave of coronavirus in the future. Although we can’t predict the future, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there’s a second wave of the pandemic after businesses open their doors again and life as normal resumes .

14. It will not diminish in warm temperatures. Since most people associate the regular flu season with the colder months of the year, many assume that COVID-19 will taper off as temperatures rise. But Salas-Whalen emphasizes that it is not as simple as that. “Unfortunately, the virology of COVID-19 does not diminish in warm temperatures,” she says. “Although the virus may have a seasonal cycle, it is not reasonable to expect a huge decline in transmission due to warmer weather alone. We see the largest decrease in infections when people refrain from being in locations with poor ventilation and/or large crowds.”

15. Some face masks provide better protection than others. Because coronavirus is transmitted via droplets, face masks help prevent transmission when an infected person coughs or sneezes. But you might not know that some face masks are more effective than others. N95 masks block at least 95 percent of tiny particles while medical masks are much less effective, only filtering 60 to 80 percent of small particles.

With masks in short supply, many people have resorted to homemade masks, which can protect you if you use a durable fabric like cotton. If you want to sew your own cloth face covering, check out this nifty guide by the CDC.

16. Coronavirus has cousins. According to an article from the Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, COVID-19 is a variant of the coronavirus that caused the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003. As a result, its official name is severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. It is also a relative of the coronavirus Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as MERS, which surfaced in the Middle East beginning in 2012.

17. COVID-19 refers to the disease that the virus causes, not the virus itself. WHO realized that calling the novel virus SARS-CoV-2 might lead to some confusion and anxiety. As Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of WHO, put it in February: “From a risk communications perspective, using the name SARS can have unintended consequences in terms of creating unnecessary fear for some populations, especially in Asia, which was worst affected by the SARS outbreak in 2003.” For that reason, WHO opted to refer to it by the name of the disease it results in—COVID-19—rather than by the name of the virus itself.

18. Pets can get coronaviruses. Unfortunately, cats and dogs are able to contract coronaviruses—sometimes with deadly consequences. A 2011 study in the journal Advances in Virology discusses how what’s called pantropic canine coronavirus can infect cats and dogs. And a virus known as feline infectious peritonitis can cause cats to exhibit flu-like symptoms or even organ failure. At the beginning of March, it was confirmed that a dog in Hong Kong contracted coronavirus from his owner. “There are strains of coronavirus that do affect dogs, typically puppies,” Christie Long, DVM, the head of veterinary medicine at Modern Animal in Los Angeles, previously told Best Life. “As coronaviruses themselves are capable of rapid mutation, we are always on the lookout for evidence of disease caused by new strains of this virus. “The good news? WHO states that there is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19 to humans.

19. Previous pandemics were far worse than COVID-19. Nearly 300,000 people have died around the world as of the time this article was published—a terrible toll, to be sure. But it pales in comparison to the 1957 H2N2 flu, which killed 1.1 million people (0.04 percent of the global population at the time), or the 1918 Spanish flu (responsible for the death of 50 million people), or the black death, which killed 75 million people (almost 17 percent of the global population at the time).

20. It is less infectious than airborne viruses, like measles. COVID-19 is incredibly contagious. But it’s not as contagious as airborne viruses, such as tuberculosis or measles. “It is an infectious disease, which is most likely spread via droplet transmission. This means that it requires large droplets containing particles of the virus to infect a new host,” explains Taylor Graber, MD, a resident anesthesiologist at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

21. Twenty seconds of handwashing may not be enough. You probably thought you were pretty hygienic—always careful to wash your hands after using the bathroom and usually before you had something to eat. But as numerous health officials have reminded us since coronavirus really started to spread, there’s a difference between quickly running your hands under the tap and really giving them a scrub. And though 20 seconds has been the recommended amount of time to spend scrubbing, even that may not be enough. “Be diligent about washing hands appropriately: for 20 to 30 seconds with soap, under warm running water,” Graber recommends. Try timing yourself with some of these helpful memes.

22. Removing your shoes is a must. While hand-washing is a vital way to reduce one’s risk of contracting COVID-19, those aforementioned droplets can also travel from the outside world into your home on the bottom of your shoes. In order to keep your home coronavirus-free, you should remove your shoes when you come inside.

23. It is barely affected children. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that children 10 and under account for just 1 percent of all COVID-19 cases, while those between the ages of 30 to 79 make up nearly 90 percent. Scientists are not sure why, but they think the answers may help us defeat COVID-19.

References: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports - the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) - The Wall Street Journal. - Best life online - CBC news

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