Corona-virus

What do you know about the Coronavirus?

Published: 20 March, 2020 - Updated: 30 July, 2020

There is a lot of data that exists so far about the Coronavirus. Every day we receive all kinds of information through the media, social networks, family or friends, but... What is really known about the Coronavirus?

In order to deal with it in a responsible and correct way, the most important thing is to always follow the information and prevention measures provided by official sources. We must not fall into the disinformation trap created by the hoaxes or fake news that are constantly being produced, particularly in the online environment.

At MARNYS we have compiled everything provided so far by the WHO, the Spanish Ministry of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), so that you have everything you need to know about this virus.

First of all, what is the Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are larger viruses than the flu virus, and their extensions from the surface resemble a crown, hence their name. They belong to the subfamily Orthocoronavirinae of the family Coronaviridae and can infect both humans and animals. 

According to the WHO: "In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections that can range from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes the coronavirus disease COVID-19".

So, what is COVID-19?

Both the WHO and the Spanish Ministry of Health agree that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is a new type of coronavirus that can affect people and was first detected in the city of Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, in China. 

Both the new virus and the disease were unknown before the outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

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How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Due to the newness of this epidemic outbreak, the WHO is continuing to study and monitor the ways in which COVID-19 is spread.

However, so far the from information generated by the WHO, the Spanish Ministry of Health, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), among other official bodies, the following is known about its transmission:

  • It is transmitted between people who have had close contact with each other (within 1-2 meters).
  • Transmission appears to be by close contact with respiratory secretions generated by a sick person's cough or sneeze. These droplets can reach the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly enter the lungs when they breathe.
  • It may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes, although this is not thought to be the primary way the virus is spread.
  • How contagious it is depends on the amount of virus in the airways. Airborne transmission over distances greater than 1-2 meters seems unlikely.
  • It may be possible for spread to occur before the affected people show symptoms. However, according to published reports from these sources, this is not believed to be the main way that the virus spreads.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Official health agencies describe the symptoms as very similar to those of the flu:

  • Fever 
  • Dry cough 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Some patients may have pain, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea

Most cases have mild symptoms appearing gradually, in as few as 2 days or up to 14 days after exposure. Some people become infected but do not develop any symptoms and are not sick.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without any specific treatment.

Are some people at greater risk than others?

About 1 in 6 people who get COVID-19 develop a serious illness and have difficulty breathing.

Older people and those with underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

So far, about 2% of people who have contracted the disease have died.

People who have a fever, cough and shortness of breath should seek medical attention by calling the designated telephone numbers and not go to health centers or hospitals.

Are children an at-risk population?

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reports that the disease in children appears to be relatively rare and mild. A large study in China suggested that just over 2% of cases were under 18. Of these, less than 3% developed a serious or critical illness.

What is the risk in pregnant women?

According to current ECDC data, although there is limited scientific evidence, the severity of COVID-19 disease is similar to that in non-pregnant adults, and there is no data suggesting that COVID-19 infection during pregnancy has a negative effect on the fetus.

At present, there is no evidence that transmission of COVID-19 from mother to child occurs during pregnancy, however the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will monitor the course of the disease on this issue. It also recommends the same hygiene and precautionary measures for pregnant women as for the rest of the population exposed to COVID-19.

Is COVID-19 comparable to SARS or the seasonal flu?

The 2020 coronavirus is genetically related to the SARS virus, which emerged in late 2002, also in China, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). So far, SARS has no therapeutic treatment and no vaccine.

Although COVID-19 and seasonal flu are transmitted from person to person, causing similar symptoms, they are very different viruses with very different behaviors.

The ECDC estimates that between 15,000 and 75,000 people die prematurely from causes associated with seasonal flu each year in the EU, the UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This is approximately 1 in every 1000 people infected. In comparison, the current estimated mortality rate for COVID-19 is 20-30 per 1000 people.

The concern with COVID-19 is that, unlike the flu, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the disease. It also appears to be as transmissible as the flu, if not more so.

Because it is a new virus, no one has prior immunity, which in theory means that the entire human population is potentially susceptible to COVID-19 infection.

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?

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The first step to be taken is to keep abreast of the information provided by the various official channels on the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Spanish Ministry of Health, the ECDC, the WHO and the CDC, and through the public health authorities.

With regard to respiratory diseases, the Spanish Ministry of Health recommends washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, using disposable tissues and avoiding close contact with other people, as well as avoiding touching your nose, eyes or mouth.

For its part, in countries or areas where the virus is spreading, the WHO proposes measures such as staying home if you are not well and seeking medical attention by phone if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If you have symptoms, wear a mask when you leave home or receive any essential visits.

What control measures have been taken to curb COVID-19?

According to the Spanish Ministry of Health's website, "Since March 14, a state of alarm has been declared throughout Spain, and measures are being taken to address this serious and exceptional situation, with the aim of protecting the health of citizens, containing the spread of the disease and strengthening the public health system". This state of alarm ended on June 21, 2020.

It is vitally important to consult official sources to keep yourself up to date on the situation.

The best prevention is to abide by the regulations in force in your country; looking after your health and that of your family is a responsibility for all citizens.

Are there medications or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?

The WHO reports that, to date, there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medication to prevent or treat COVID-19. However, those affected should receive health care to relieve symptoms with supportive measures, such as good hydration, good nutrition, and drugs authorized by a healthcare provider to lower fever, reduce pain, or treat a runny nose.

People with severe cases of the disease must remain hospitalized. 

There are currently clinical trials underway for vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat 19-COVID disease, all coordinated by the WHO on a global basis.

Is testing being done to diagnose the infection?

Priority in testing is being given to patients who are hospitalized or have hospital admission criteria and to health and social care professionals or other essential services who have symptoms, in order to prevent transmission of the virus in these settings.

In addition, there are cases where, based on a clinical assessment per individual or specially vulnerable people, a diagnostic test is indicated.