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CORONAVIRUS COVID-19. The virus that stopped the world

CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

It is a virus belonging to the extended family of coronaviruses, which can cause disease in both animals and humans. COVID-19 is an infectious disease that has recently been discovered, along with the coronavirus that causes it, from an outbreak that occurred in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.

Causes and origin of coronavirus

The exact origin of this new coronavirus is not yet clear, but it is known that the first cases were known in the city of Wuhan, capital of the province of Hubei, in China. 

There are several rumors about the causes of this virus, which has spread very quickly around the world, but none of them have yet been proven by the scientists investigating the issue. It has been said that it was born in the seafood market in Wuhan, that it mutated into animals like bats before passing to humans, or that it originated in an animal that abounds in that area called pangolin. 

Although bats are natural reservoirs of coronavirus and different animal species are traded in the Wuhan market that may be suspected of being a bridge to humans, there are no confirmations at this time as to how this pandemic came about.

The human coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that have been known for a long time, and Sars-CoV-2 is the latest to be discovered.

The name coronavirus is due to the fact that its surface has crown-shaped tips.

Both this virus and COVID-19 disease were not known prior to the outbreak at the Wuhan market in December 2019.

Several of the coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections in humans, ranging from the classic cold to more serious illnesses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), according to the World Health Organization.

Coronaviruses are many and very common in animal species, mainly bats and birds, although not all of them can infect humans and some only cause a common cold.

It is not known exactly at what point in history the first coronaviruses originated, but it is known that they had their beginning a very long time ago, probably millions of years. They may have appeared as long as birds and bats have existed, or even earlier.

Types of Coronavirus

Coronavirid viruses (Coronaviridae) are divided into two families: the Orthocoronavirinae (more often known as coronaviruses) and the Letovirinae.

Within the group of coronaviruses or “CoVs” there are four main groups and their names are Greek letters: alpha, beta, gamma and delta.

The alpha and beta CoVs infect mammals most commonly and are likely to have originated in bats, while the gamma and delta CoVs infect and largely originate in birds. Several mammals, such as pigs and humans, harbor multiple coronaviruses.

About two years ago, in China, there was an outbreak of a pig coronavirus, Sars-CoV, which started in bats and resulted in the death of 25,000 pigs.

As known from scientific research on humans, there are seven known types of coronavirus that can infect us, called HCovs.

Four of the HCov coronaviruses (HCoV-229E, HCoV NL63, HCoV-HKU1, and HCoV-OC43) usually cause a common cold and are likely to be potentially more severe in people with immune deficiencies.

The other three types of coronaviruses that have struck with outbreaks of serious disease in humans are Sars-CoV (between 2002 and 2003), Mers-CoV (from 2012 to present) and currently Sars-CoV-2 2019, which causes COVID-19 and it is not known how long its reach will last.

Other viruses in the Coronavirus family

virus

SARS Coronavirus

SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was discovered at the end of February 2003. The WHO (World Health Organization) developed an international investigation in conjunction

Read More »
virus

MERS Coronavirus

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease that is caused by a coronavirus (the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or

Read More »

Was the origin of the human coronavirus in a market in China?

This is assumed to be the case, as the first known cases of positive COVID-19 occurred in the market of Wuhan City – with about 11 million inhabitants – the capital of Hubei Province in China. Many specialists point to the sale of wild animals there as a likely cause of the incubation and spread of this new coronavirus.

The market in this city, located in the center of China, sells fruits, vegetables, beef cuts, pork and lamb, whole chickens, crabs, live fish and meat from about 112 different animal species, from rats to koalas. The occurrence of these coronaviruses may be due to the crowded and unhygienic conditions of many of the animals that are traded live and could possess and transmit the VID-19. Dirt, garbage, animal blood and lack of sanitary controls are perfect environments for the emergence of new pathogens. 

When the first positive cases of COVID-19 were reported, photos and videos of the poor state of hygiene in the area began to circulate on the various social networks. The Wuhan market was closed on January 1 by the government of the People’s Republic of China, after high suspicions that this site was the place of origin and first epicenter of the current pandemic, which spread to the rest of the country and to almost all countries in the world.

Coronavirus Transmission Pathways

The main way COVID-19 spreads is through direct contact with another person who is infected with the virus. Transmission of the disease can occur by tiny drops from the nose or mouth that are released when an infected person coughs or exhales and comes into contact with another person. 

Another form of transmission may be if a non-infected person comes into contact with objects or surfaces that someone who is sick has spread the virus by coughing or breathing out and then puts his or her hands into the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Studies so far show that the virus is transmitted by contact with the droplets of an infected person rather than through the air, and the risk of catching the disease from someone who does not have any symptoms is very low. However, there are people who get COVID-19 who have only mild symptoms, usually in the early stages of the disease, so the spread may be from someone who has a mild cough or does not feel sick.

Although the risk is low, there is also a possibility of spreading COVID-19 through contact with the stool of an infected person. The World Health Organization is currently evaluating the research being conducted on this topic and will provide updated information as more results become available.

Coronavirus precautions

  • There are several actions that are recommended by the WHO to prevent or reduce the likelihood of contracting or spreading IDOC-19. Some of them are:
  • Wash your hands properly and frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based disinfectant. This ensures that viruses on your hands can be eliminated.
  • Maintain a minimum distance of three feet from people who are coughing or sneezing, because when this happens, small droplets of fluid that could contain the virus are released from your mouth or nose. If you are near these people there is a risk of inhaling these droplets and acquiring the COVID-19 virus, if the person who coughs or sneezes is infected with this disease.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is indicated because the hands are in constant contact with many surfaces where the virus can live. What could happen when you put your hands on your face without washing them is that the virus could be transferred to your eyes, nose or mouth, which are the ways it can enter your body and make you sick.
  • Maintain good airway hygiene. These actions are covering your mouth or nose with the crease of your elbow when you cough or sneeze or covering yourself with a tissue when you do so. It is important to dispose of the tissue after use because, as we said, the droplets that carry the virus are present there and can be exposed to other people. Maintaining respiratory hygiene is an effective method for fighting flu, colds and VID 19.
  • In the presence of any of the symptoms of COVID-19, stay home. If you have a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and contact the appropriate health agencies. You should pay attention and follow the instructions of local health authorities responsibly. It is important to provide this information so that health professionals can act with predictability on issues such as determining the appropriate health care facility.
  • Keep informed of the latest news on COVID-19. Follow the advice on what to do and be aware of how the virus is spreading in your area. Advice on what to do and how the virus is spreading in your area should be followed. Local and national authorities are the most authoritative informants on what actions people should take in each area to reduce the chances of spreading and circulating the virus.
  • Be aware of what is happening in the areas of greatest danger. The areas, cities and places that are the epicenter and where COVID-19 is spreading fastest. If possible, do not travel to or through these areas, especially if you have diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or pneumonia or if you are elderly.

Coronavirus precautions

Protection measures for people in areas where VOC-19 is spreading or who have recently visited the most affected sites (in the last 14 days)

  • Observe, follow and implement the recommendations set out above. (These are relevant protection measures for all persons).
  • Stay home if you feel sick or have minimal symptoms of headache, slight fever (37.3 oC or more) and mild rhinorrhea, until you recover. If it is necessary to leave the house or to receive another person (for example, for food supply or hygiene), use a mask to avoid infection of others due to the contagion. Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will help make care more effective and help protect you and others from possible infection with VIDOC-19 or others.
  • If you have symptoms of cough, fever, or shortness of breath, seek medical help quickly. You may have a respiratory infection or other serious condition. The call should be made early and you should inform your health care provider of any recent travel or recent contact with travelers.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

The main symptoms of the new coronavirus COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and dry cough. In some cases there are patients who have presented different pictures of nasal congestion, pain, rhinorrhea, diarrhea and sore throat. These symptoms appear gradually and are usually mild. 

Most affected people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing any special treatment. According to WHO data, it is estimated that one in six people who contract COVID-19 develop a serious illness and have breathing difficulties.

The elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes, are most likely to develop serious diseases.

About 2% of people who have contracted this virus have died, and it is recommended that people with a fever, cough or breathing difficulties seek medical assistance.

How is the coronavirus different from the flu?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – which is the agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services – has released charts and specifications for people to differentiate the symptoms of the coronavirus from those of a common cold.

The Government of the United States, like all countries in the world, is very alert to the spread of the new coronavirus, which is already adding new cases and deaths every day in that country and almost all over the planet. One of the biggest conflicts it represents is that the coronavirus has symptoms very similar to those of the common cold, flu or allergies and this can confuse the infected person, who could minimize the importance of what happens to him and thus favor the spread to other people.

The first thing to know is if the person has a fever. If the answer is yes, and you are also short of breath, you should consult your doctor because there is a chance that you are a positive case of coronavirus. Other symptoms that appear if you have this disease are coughing, fatigue and weakness. If you are not short of breath, you may have the flu. Other symptoms that occur with the flu include coughing, fatigue, and weakness.

Another important question to ask is whether the person has eye irritation. If that is the case we could be in the case of an allergy. Other symptoms of allergy are sneezing and runny nose. If, on the other hand, the person’s eyes are not irritated, it could be a case of the common cold. Other cold symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and mild chest discomfort.

Although the three conditions can generate the appearance of similar symptoms, the WHO (World Health Organization) has determined parameters to find their differences.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the way to differentiate covid-19 (coronavirus), influenza, and influenza. In summary, these are the symptom descriptions of each:

Coronavirus

The symptoms of COVID-19 occur progressively and are always expressed with a high fever and a constant cough. 

In some cases the infected person shows fatigue, tiredness, body pain, sore throat, headache and difficulty in breathing.

In exceptional cases, nasal congestion, excess mucus or diarrhoea may occur.

There’s never any sneezing.

Flu

The condition of the flu is also progressive and is always demonstrated by the following symptoms: sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion and excess mucus. 

In some cases the patient feels fatigue and coughs.

Strangely, it can cause fever and headache.

There is never diarrhea or shortness of breath.

Influenza

The appearance of influenza in the patient is sudden and always manifests itself with high fever, fatigue, cough, headache and other body aches.

In some cases, nasal congestion, sore throat, and diarrhea occur.

There’s never any sneezing or shortness of breath.

Treatment of coronavirus

It is very important to note that while there are some Western, traditional or home remedies that can alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19 and allow for greater comfort in dealing with its consequences, there is still no scientific evidence that there are current medicines that can prevent or cure the disease.

There are currently clinical trials underway with both Western and traditional medicines, but we must be on the lookout for updated information from the World Health Organization regarding the results of these trials.

A primary fact about medication that should be carefully considered by all people is that antibiotics are not effective against viruses, only against infections caused by bacteria. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and therefore, there is no antibiotic that can fight it. The World Health Organization does not in any way recommend self-medication, especially of antibiotics, to prevent or cure ICVID-19.

Another relevant clarification is that until today there is also no vaccine or antiviral medication that is specified to prevent or cure this new coronavirus.

Self-isolation or quarantine. When, where, how, why and for how long?

A fairly effective strategy that is being implemented in many places to avoid contagion is self-isolation. Quarantine or self-isolation consists of cutting off any possible connection to the outside world, i.e. staying at home. According to a PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) guide, this means not attending work, school or public places and away from other people in order not to infect anyone or be infected. 

If you are sharing your home with another person, the advice is to avoid contact as much as possible, maintain a distance of at least two metres, sleep separately and stay away from people in a more vulnerable state, such as older people or those with health conditions. Do not share towels or personal hygiene items and try to wash your hands frequently for at least twenty seconds. 

The WHO (World Health Organization) has established that a person in quarantine cannot receive visits. Supplies or packages that must be received must be left at the door of your home to avoid contact with the person delivering those items.

Each country is responsible for determining the conditions for self-isolation according to the degree of virus spread it has. In the United Kingdom, for example, it was determined that any person with defined symptoms, such as fever above 37.8 degrees or a persistent cough, should be quarantined for seven days. In most South American countries – Argentina, Colombia and Brazil, among others – it was indicated that self-isolation for people coming from the most affected countries or regions – China, South Korea, Europe, the United States and Iran – should be 14 days.

For people with mild symptoms of COVID-19, such as low-grade fever, mild cough or moderate fatigue, WHO and various government agencies around the world recommend that they remain isolated and avoid going to health facilities so as not to contribute to the spread of the virus and only go to hospital if symptoms become more severe.

Recommendations and suggestions for supplies during quarantine or social isolation

Given that many cities, regions and even entire countries will have to be quarantined or socially isolated in order to cope with the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19-, the following highlights a series of recommendations and suggestions for coping with the days spent at home in the best possible way:

  • It is important to try to avoid going out too much to get supplies, so checking the lists to go to the supermarket or pharmacy before going out will prevent you from having time to socialize and be exposed to the virus.
  • Even if you maintain hygiene and order in your house, don’t stop paying attention to your actions when you go out. It is essential for your safety and everyone else’s that you wash your hands thoroughly before leaving or when you return. If possible, leave your shoes at the door and your wallet, purse, keys and frequently used items in a box near the door. Change your clothes whenever you return from the street and put in the clothes you used when you left.
  • Try as much as possible to make a first big purchase. Stocking up on items such as toilet paper, soap, alcohol, first aid and cleaning supplies will save you more than one headache.
  • He prefers the closest mini-markets, warehouses and suppliers. Avoid going too far to get your food or medicine.
  • As for food, take advantage of buying a variety of canned goods (tomatoes, fruit, tuna and mackerel, pasta, rice, vegetables). Don’t forget to buy meat, fruit, fish and other goods that you can keep in the freezer. Fruit and vegetables should be stored in separate bags in cubes. Be sure to buy plantains or green bananas (they last longer than the ripe ones). Make the most of your freezer, it will help you to ration and save time and resources. Make sauces, broths and individual cakes to make your meals easier.
  • Eat a balanced diet to stay healthy – it will be important for your physical and mental health – and try to be creative in the kitchen. This will not only make you feel good physically but will keep your brain active and help improve your mood.
  • Don’t stop buying items that you don’t think are indispensable but that will serve as a great stimulus for moments of distress. Chocolates, alcoholic drinks and cheese are essential to improve your mood when you feel sad or worried about the situation.
  • Take advantage of your stay at home to generate new activities in your life. Sort or rearrange your clothes, your furniture, and your groceries. Take advantage of your stay to look at old photos, try to cook something you wanted and never had. Learn to play a game you didn’t know about. 
  • Observe and discover the knowledge that is online. Courses of various kinds, open libraries, museums and art galleries that you can visit online for free.
  • As much as you can, exercise. Don’t stay in bed or sit too long. Alternate the hours in front of the computer or using the mobile phone and TV with walks inside the house, even if your home is small.
  • Try to get into the sun even for a few minutes every day.
  • If you have a balcony or window to the street, record the movements you see, try to maintain communication through social networks or by phone with your friends, neighbors and loved ones.
  • Keep informed about new events that are happening through data and channels of official agencies – official bulletins, releases and information from the government of your city, province, region or country, World Health Organization, etc. Do it every day but do what is necessary. It is not advisable to be hyper connected to the topic most of the day.
  • If you like it you can distract yourself by listening to music, watching series and movies, reading. But also try to do productive activities for you and your home: you can paint, repair damaged furniture or appliances, wax the floors, change lamps that don’t work. Do everything you always leave hanging because you don’t have time. 
  • Write down all the ideas that come to mind, create a log of your quarantine days, record your thoughts, inquire into your feelings and express them to those close to you in whatever way you can.
  • Keep in mind more than ever the numbers for emergency medical, fire and police. Not to alarm you, but you never know what might happen. Also, stay connected to your closest neighbors. It’s also a chance to build relationships with people who live very close to you but who you didn’t used to have contact with.
  • If you have a pet, pay close attention to it. Make sure it’s healthy and well fed. Take advantage of these days full time with her and enjoy her company. It will be very pleasant and a good soul reward for you.
  • If you’re working from home on your computer for the first time, see how you feel about doing it. It might be a good opportunity to continue doing it when the quarantine is over. If you have never worked from home, take the opportunity to search the internet for teleworking, research, ask questions, and discuss options and opportunities. Much of the job market is there and will be even more so in the future.
  • Have special communication with older people you know or those who have chronic health problems. They are the most vulnerable right now, and even more so if they live alone. A daily call to them can be vital to their health.
  • In addition to maintaining the hygiene of the home, as we have said, try to ventilate the rooms properly. Open the windows and let the air be renewed during the day.
  • Keep your house at a comfortable temperature. Don’t get cold or hot. It is essential that you maintain your health and comfort during the days of confinement.
  • Try not to go to the bank and do all kinds of paperwork online. If you’ve never done it before, it’s the ideal situation for you to learn. Nowadays there are many possibilities to solve legal, labour, banking and commercial issues without leaving your home.
  • If someday you don’t feel like cooking and you know a place to order food from, do it. Give yourself a break and enjoy a different meal. Depending on the country, there are places that are still open for take-away during quarantine.
  • Make an inventory of all the objects you do not use: clothes, furniture, accessories, kitchen utensils, dishes, appliances, etc. Everything you have discarded you can choose to give away to anyone you want or donate it to someone who needs it.
  • He dances, sings, writes, draws, paints, takes pictures. There are innumerable art forms that can motivate you, take you to action, boost your creativity, stimulate your brain, generate pleasure and discover skills that you had hidden inside.

Coronavirus Vaccine Advances

Government authorities in the People’s Republic of China – the country where the first outbreak of the current pandemic occurred – have issued a statement announcing that a vaccine to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus was successfully developed. Human trials have already been approved, according to the Ministry of Defense in its statement.

The achievement of the vaccine, which was given thanks to the medical team led by epidemiologist Chen Wei, who led the investigation, occurred after the outbreak of the virus, whose epicenter is in the Chinese city of Wuhan, left a very high number of infected and dead around the planet.

“The vaccine has been approved for its safety, efficacy and quality by third parties and, according to Chen, has completed its preliminary preparation for mass production,” says the text provided by the Ministry.

Last February, authorities in the Asian giant indicated that they planned to begin testing newly developed vaccines in humans in April to prevent the spread of the virus.

In addition, Chinese scientists have noted significant advances after a group of infected monkeys effectively developed some degree of immunity to the coronavirus in work conducted through a series of experiments.

Furthermore, according to research carried out by scientists, there is evidence that transmission can also occur through the eyes, so masks are insufficient to prevent transmission.

The Coronavirus Pandemic

pandemic

What is a pandemic?

Pandemic is a term used to describe an epidemic disease that spreads through several countries in the world simultaneously. To avoid confusion, it is important

Read More »

At what temperature does the coronavirus die?

Although there has been a popular rumour that the coronavirus dies at 25 degrees Celsius – even Donald Trump himself said: “heat, in general terms, kills this type of virus” – there is no scientific evidence to prove it.

The effects of temperature on this virus are not yet known. Even the seasonal factor may not be important in a pandemic of the characteristics the world is currently experiencing, due to the contagion that is taking place between the hemispheres of the planet. This is similar to what happened with H1N1, which was generated in a spring and grew in the summer.

As the number of deaths and infections from the new coronavirus grows steadily, some believe that the temperature rises due to the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere should slow or stop the spread of the disease. But it is not known for sure and may not even be true.

The hypothesis that higher temperatures in the spring can defuse the disease shock wave comes largely from a comparison of the coronavirus to the common cold. In many of its characteristics, COVID-19 is like a cold – the two are spread in similar ways (respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces) and agree that they cause usually mild respiratory illnesses that can lead to severe pneumonia causing death. But the spread and death rate of IDOC-19 is much higher than that of the cold. And it is not known whether COVID-19 transmissions will be affected by rising or falling seasonal temperatures.

For the flu, the beginning of spring causes a considerable drop in the number of cases that remains until the return of the lower temperatures in autumn. It is assumed that this behaviour of the flu occurs because of the sensitivity of the virus to different climates and because of the seasonal changes in the human immune system and types of behaviour.

In principle, the flu virus seems to survive best in cold, dry climates with a lack of ultraviolet light. In addition, for many people, winter days, where the sun’s rays are less intense and levels of vitamin D and melatonin can complicate the functioning of the immune system. Finally, because of the cold temperatures on the streets, it is more common in winter for people to spend more time with other people, indoors and at close quarters, causing a significant increase in the chances of contagion and spread of the virus.

The level of coronavirus infections may be influenced by these seasonal habits of people, although it is not proven by science what effects temperature and humidity have on coronavirus, nor their transmission among humans. Experience indicates that other coronavirus species are seasonal, causing common colds during winters, but it is not clear how COVID-19 acts.

During the SARS epidemic of 2002 and 2003, the first cases also occurred in the northern hemisphere winter and ended in July 2003, with minimal reoccurrence in the following winter. The number of SARS infections peaked in May, when temperatures were warmer (equivalent to November in the southern hemisphere) and the end of the spread occurred in July (equivalent to January in the southern hemisphere) can clearly demonstrate the period required for the flattening of the virus infection curve, rather than a climatic effect on the spread of the virus. It was also seen that the MERS coronavirus has been transmitted especially in countries with warm climates.

Comparing again the effects produced by COVID-19 with those of the flu, it can be stated that the so-called human influenza (H1N1) that appeared between 2009 and 2010 emerged during the spring of the northern hemisphere and grew strongly in that season and in the subsequent summer, to finally reach its peak of cases in the following winter.

This experience shows that the effects of a pandemic, by increasing the number of cases in a large number of countries spread over different continents, can generate an escalation of virus transmission even in the summer, through the different seasons, unlike other smaller epidemics.

In conclusion, the arrival of climates with higher temperatures may decrease viral transmission in the northern hemisphere (unlike the southern hemisphere, where the arrival of winter greatly increases transmission in the coming winter), but it is highly unlikely that climate could be a determining factor in ending this growing pandemic.

The Economy Behind the Coronavirus

Media and social networking in times of pandemic

This pandemic has reached humanity at a time when there is total access to communications and the media. There is a hyperconnectivity of people that in some cases can be harmful. That is why large multimedia companies have a huge responsibility in the face of this global crisis.

Although the large multimedia media in different parts of the world have created information content that can be accessed for free, it is always advisable to first find out about it through the official government channels of each city, province, region, district or country. There are cases of media in the United States, such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic and Wired that have developed content and sections with detailed information about the coronavirus. In France, well-known media such as Le Monde and Le Figaro, which had begun to charge their public in their online versions after the drop in sales of the paper newspaper, decided to give a free space with information about the coronavirus. Other countries around the world have also imitated this trend, which, although remarkable, also requires a high degree of responsibility to provide true data, properly checked information and not to cause panic in the population. In addition, many channels and platforms include educational and recreational content for school-aged children who must remain at home for a certain time. Current information on coronavirus focused on young children is also being provided in many countries, including support from ministries of education.

Another important issue is the correct use of social networks. The enormous global popularity of Whatsapp, added to the most used social networks in the world -like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, among others- produces a huge amount of content created by its users. Within that content, there are countless amounts of false news, photographs, audios and videos that are misleading or misinformed and can lead people to distress and despair. It is essential to ask people in different countries not to believe everything they receive on their networks and to always check the official information. 

Governments often provide hotline numbers and communicate to society through national radio and television networks. Depending on the nation, the means of reaching the people may vary, but a good communication strategy could be a significant point in the control of the pandemic. Detailed and explanatory information on prevention methods, a good plan for receiving calls, and attention from health care facilities are key points that should be addressed. In addition, the accompaniment of traditional media to bring these messages to the people, can generate effective mechanisms of collaboration to help prevent the spread and save lives.

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