wHAT IS COVID-19?
In December 2019, doctors in Wuhan Province, China, identified a novel (new) coronavirus like that which caused the SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak of 2002. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause anything from a common cold to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).
Because of the similarities of this novel coronavirus to SARS-CoV, it has been identified as SARS-CoV-2 with the resulting illness being named COVID-19.
Information collected to date suggests the most common symptom of COVID-19 is a high temperature. This is often accompanied by a dry cough and tiredness. Other symptoms may be present, but these are the 3 most common for the majority of cases.
Some of the lesser experienced symptoms include runny nose, aches and pains, nasal congestion, diarrhea or a sore throat.
Transmission of COVID-19 has been identified as via droplet. This means that it is carried in sputum (a mix of saliva and mucous from the respiratory tract) and is spread by coughing and sneezing. Secondary transmission from droplets transferred to surfaces may also occur from hands transferring pathogens to mucous membranes by touching the eyes, nose and mouth. There is also some early evidence coming through that the virus is present in faecal matter of those infected.
While the virus can infect anyone, there is higher susceptibility for the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions, as is the case for most infectious diseases. The severity of the infection is impacted by these things. As this is a pneumonia type infection it affects the upper respiratory system and the lungs meaning smokers and asthmatics are also at higher risk of developing serious symptoms.
Current reports suggest it is more likely to be server or cause death in males rather than females and in areas where epidemic community outbreak has occurred, is thought to be because of the large proportion of males who smoke in countries such as China and Italy.
As with any transmissible disease, the best defence is correct and thorough Hand Hygiene. Cough Etiquette also plays a part – covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing and performing Hand Hygiene or if tissues and Hand Hygiene are not available, coughing in the crook of your elbow.