As you already know by now, the name COVID-19 comes from “CoronaVirus Disease 2019” and is a major disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (most commonly referred to as the “coronavirus”). The pandemic has spread in all countries of the world, and by this date, there are 1 million cases and 52,000 deaths.
The most affected countries are Italy and Spain, with many more deaths compared to China, the country where the virus was first recorded. The USA is catching up quickly with more than 5,000 deaths and the highest number of recorded cases (more than 240,000).
The main symptoms of coronavirus infection are:
- A high temperature
- A dry cough
- A sore throat
- Nasal congestion or a runny nose
- Aches and pain
Luckily, 80% of the sick people only have a mild case (similar to a regular cold), and they recover without needing any special treatment. 16% of cases become seriously ill, while about 4% end up dying. Those at higher risk are the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or respiratory conditions.
Since this is a viral infection, antibiotics are not helpful, nor do antiviral drugs used against the flu. There is no vaccine either, so the recovery only depends on the immune system and the intensive care given by medical professionals.
Should you go to the doctor if you have a temperature or a cough?
The simple answer is: no! Governments recommend that you don’t leave the home if you have any symptoms, in order to avoid giving the virus to others. Call your doctor for advice and stay inside for at least 7 days. If you feel worse or your symptoms last for more than 7 days, then you will be taken to a hospital. Call the emergency number in your country in this situation, and an ambulance will arrive and take you to the hospital. No need for you to go there yourself, especially with public transportation.
Is the coronavirus worse than the flu?
Unfortunately, it is much worse. More data still needs to come in, but the mortality rate of COVID-19 is around 3-4%. The seasonal flu usually had a mortality rate of below 1% and caused around 400,000 deaths each year (globally). This number seems very high compared to the 50,000 deaths caused by COVID-19, but these deaths occurred in only 3 months and after the strict precaution measures taken by governments.
Just imagine the numbers if none of the measures was taken. And the pandemic is still on-going, with an increasing number of new cases each day. The SARS disease in 2002 was also caused by a coronavirus and had a death rate of more than 10%, but luckily it didn’t expand so fast as this new virus. The MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) had a death rate of 35%, but that one ended up quickly as well. Overall, the SARS infected 8,000 people and killed more than 750, while the MERS infected 2,500 and killed around 870. Those epidemics seem tiny compared to this new virus that already infected more than 1 million people worldwide. So not only that the new coronavirus is more deadly than the flu, but it’s also much more contagious. And unlike the flu that has a vaccine, there is none for the coronavirus yet. So make sure to avoid human contact as much as possible during this time of quarantine, wash your hands and always wear a mask when going outside. Get your NIOSH certified N95 respirator mask at this link.