Coronavirus Update: Here are 5 things that are absolutely true about this deadly disease

  • Right now, the world is dealing with the coronavirus, which is one of the biggest outbreaks in recent history.
  • Since it popped up in Wuhan, China in January 2020, there are now 492 deaths, 24,500 confirmed cases worldwide with suspected cases showing even in Africa.
  • With fast spreading outbreaks like this come false information. Business Insider SSA debunks myths about this new, deadly virus including rumors about a cure.

As of Wednesday, February 2020, the coronavirus has resulted in almost 500 deaths with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

The deadly virus has spread outside of Wuhan, China where it originated from and has infected 170 people in over 20 countries.

So far, there have been two deaths outside of mainland China - one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

The fast-spreading nature of the virus has caused the World Health Organization (WHO) to label the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

Scary outbreaks like this often result in misinformation rapidly spreading online especially since scientists are constantly gathering data about this new, relatively unknown infection.

Here are five things to know about the coronavirus:

Since the virus is a respiratory disease that can lead to sore throat, cough and fever, it can definitely be transmitted from person to person.

This is usually after close contact with an infected patient since the virus can be transmitted via the saliva or mucus released when an infected person coughs or sneezes .

For now, the best thing to do is to constantly wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

You should also cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth since your hands touch many surfaces that can be contaminated with the virus.

Face masks offer some protection since they block liquid droplets. However, they do not offer total protection.

Several reports say that it is likely that an animal source from a live animal market in China was responsible for some of the first reported human infections.

This is why it is best to avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals. You should also avoid consuming raw or undercooked meat.

So far, there have been several suspected cases but no verified infections in Africa.

However, the WHO has identified 13 high-risk countries including Nigeria, since they have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

Right now, doctors are using an experimental antiviral medication called remdesivir to treat patients sick with the virus. The first patient in the United States with a confirmed case was treated with infusion of this experimental drug and the patient started to get better by the next day.

Even though the drug is yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or by any other regulatory body, it is the only thing that works right now against the coronavirus.

“The drug has already been used in humans for Ebola. It’s safe, even though it didn’t do much,” says Florian Krammer, a professor and vaccine development expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

In China, experts use a combination of two anti-HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir, to coronavirus patients. After using it on a 70-year-old woman, Dr Kriangsak Atipornwanich, a lung specialist at Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok, said, “This is not the cure, but the patient’s condition has vastly improved."

He told Reuters, "From testing positive for 10 days under our care, after applying this combination of medicine the test result became negative within 48 hours.”

It is important to note that there is no vaccine for the coronavirus yet. Also, note that bleach-based cleaners are only great for killing the virus on surfaces, not in humans.

  • Some people are more vulnerable than others

Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease are more vulnerable to the virus.

People travelling to and from China and other infected countries are at higher risk.

  • Self-isolation is the thing to do as soon as you start showing flu-like symptoms associated with the virus 

Once you start developing high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat or have difficulty breathing, you are advised to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This means not going to work, school or public areas.

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