It has been brought to our attention that, in spite of (or perhaps owing to) the sheer volume of information available on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), people are still confused about the many basics of how to stay safe.
The illness is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but the virus itself is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). I’m going to use only coronavirus or COVID-19 to keep things simple.
The intent of this post is to make this information as simple and easily digestible as possible.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness, caused by a coronavirus (a family of viruses) that is infecting humans for the first time, specifically, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
Because it has not infected a human population in the past, no humans have immunity to it.
COVID-19 is transmitted primarily via the respiratory route: an infected person will sneeze or cough, the virus will leave their body and another person will contact it, either by inhaling virus droplets; or touching virus droplets that have landed on a surface, then touching their own nose or mouth.
Once “coughed/sneezed”, the majority of the droplets will be pulled to the ground by gravity. This is assumed to happen within two meters, but some evidence exists that coronavirus can infect persons 4.5 meters distant in a closed environment.
Although some research has been conducted using aerosolized COVID-19 (which is of greater concern as it may remain suspended as a “cloud”), research has detected no aerosolized coronavirus particles in the hospital rooms of COVID-19 patients.
Research conducted using aerosolized coronavirus (remember, there is no evidence at present that coronavirus can be aerosolized, but it most closely approximates sneezed virus) demonstrates the virus remains viable on:
Wearing a mask will minimize contact with inhaled coronavirus droplets, but this benefit is minimized if you continue to touch your mouth, nose and eyes with hands (or gloved hands) that have contacted the virus.
Mask use is only recommended for persons working in a healthcare setting. If you choose to wear a mask, the standard mask recommended to prevent infection by airborne virus is an N95 filtering facepiece respirator.
Detailed information on effective mask use is available here.
Wearing gloves is not more protective than washing and/or sanitizing hands. COVID-19 does not pass through the skin. If you touch your mouth, nose or eyes with either unwashed/sanitized hands or dirty gloves, the potential for infection is the same.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are:
Confirmation of COVID-19 infection is by throat swab and potentially other microbiological laboratory assessment.
Populations at greater risk are:
COVID-19 is potentially fatal in:
The above having been acknowledged, most persons contracting COVID-19 will experience symptoms of common cold. 80% of cases recorded in China were considered mild.
Keep calm and carry on!
Posted: 2020 Mar 20