What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. *WHO
What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
At first, COVID-19 was known as ‘novel coronavirus’, which means a new strain of coronavirus. Once scientists discovered what this strain of coronavirus was and how to identify it in tests, they gave it the name: SARS-CoV-2.3 When someone gets sick with this virus the illness is called COVID-19. For simplicity, the virus and the disease are being referred to by the same name, COVID-19.4
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was discovered in 2019 when an unusually high number of people in Wuhan, China, became ill with pneumonia after having an illness similar to the flu. When doctors tested them, they found these people had a type of coronavirus they hadn’t seen before.
Why is it spreading so quickly?
The reason COVID-19 is spreading so quickly is simply that it is a new virus the body does not recognise, and as such has little defence against. To explain this further, viruses are proposed to evolve via two mechanisms:
How is it spreading?Transmission of COVID-19 occurs when infected droplets are distributed via human-to-human contact, usually when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It may also be spread via contact with contaminated objects as human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days.7 Airborne spread has not been reported for COVID-19 and it is not believed to be a major driver of transmission.8
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?Symptom severity of COVID-19 varies, with mixed reports of severe flu-like symptoms in addition to milder presentations. Primary symptoms to be aware of include:
Who is most at risk?
Individuals at highest risk for severe disease include people aged over 60 years and those with underlying medical conditions.9 Susceptible individuals include:
To put this in context…Media outlets have focused their attention on the spread of COVID-19 and associated fatalities, contributing to alarm and unrest within the Australian community. While you should remain informed on the progression of this outbreak, you should not be alarmed, as the Australian Government is adequately addressing COVID-19 via the ‘Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan’. This scheme involves preventative measures during the early stages of the outbreak, including mechanisms for early detection and effective management of cases and contacts, and has likely contributed to current low incidences of COVID-19 within Australia.
Despite reports of more than 117,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, only 112 cases have originated within Australia.10,11 Further to this, the case fatality rate is approximately 3.6% of confirmed cases reported globally, with an estimated 80% of laboratory confirmed patients experiencing only mild to moderate symptoms followed by recovery (Figure 1).12 Additionally, disease in children appears to be relatively rare. Approximately 2.4% of the total cases reported involved individuals aged under 19 years, with a very small proportion of those developing severe (2.5%) or critical disease (0.2%).13
Comparisons between COVID-19 and common influenza viruses also provide context regarding population impact, with influenza estimated to have affected one billion individuals and caused anywhere between 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide.15
How you can protect yourself from coronavirus
As COVID-19 is a novel virus, there is no vaccine currently available. However, practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene provides the best defence against viral infections. These include:
Figure 1: Factors that influence virulence of pathogens (left) offset by physiological and lifestyle components that support immune defences, dictating the body’s response to infection.
What to do if you develop symptoms
If you do develop symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath, seek immediate guidance from a medical professional. You may be advised to isolate yourself from the general population to stop viral spread.
Individuals who have recently travelled to an international high-risk area or who have recently been in contact with a confirmed case are at an increased risk of developing COVID-19 and are advised to contact a medical professional for assistance.
There are several Naturopathic Supplements that can reduce the severity.