Coronovirus Concerns

Taylor Benham, Writer

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the current outbreak of coronavirus disease. COVID-19 is the technical name of the current global Coronavirus concern. Coronaviruses 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) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

 Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. Regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking meat and eggs can help prevent infection.

The infection spreads from person to person through close contact with one another. Respiratory droplets are produced and shared when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. Experts say one could be available in the next 12 to 18 months.

While China’s official numbers continue to show a drop in new cases and deaths in the country, in other parts of the world the problem appears to be getting worse. South Korea announced 505 new cases Thursday, bringing its total to 1,766, including a U.S. soldier stationed on the peninsula. There is also an outbreak in Italy, and universities have closed in the country to help contain the disease.

As concerns about the spread of the coronavirus intensify, IBM said Thursday that it has asked employees who work in affected regions in China, Japan, South Korea and Italy, to currently to work from home “wherever possible.”  

While numbers appear to be falling in some areas and rising in others, just what does that mean for the US? A Northern California woman has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or encountering anyone known to have the infection. There has even been a Bartow County couple hospitalized and quarantined (one overseas, one in the US) after cruising in the Far East and contracting the virus. Just today, the Cartersville School system sent out an informational email discussing common-sense virus prevention. 

Many countries are taking precautions regarding the safety of the kids by discussing suspending school for two months if virus breaks out in their country. The suspension of activity wouldn’t just impact schools, but offices, mass gatherings, and any congested activity that would make spreading the virus easier. 

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus is to avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, stay home, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

There is no specific antiviral treatment for the Coronavirus. Five US cities have begun testing for coronavirus if patients present with cold and/or flu-like symptoms, in anticipation of the virus reaching our borders.  

Many say the epidemic is inevitable. That being said, stock up on soap and disinfectant. It is the easiest way to help prevent the spread of viruses.