Information on the COVID-19 Virus
In conjunction with the SSSIO advisory on Coronavirus, this webpage provides some sources of information that readers can access to educate themselves and answer some questions they may have regarding the Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 disease.
UNICEF has released a brief informative article that clearly summarizes four important points:
- What is Coronavirus?
- How is it spread?
- What are the symptoms?
- How to reduce the risk of infection?
What is this Virus?: COronaVIrus Disease first started showing up in 2019. It is caused by a type of virus that the World Health Organization has named as COVID-19 Virus. It is an RNA virus and because this variant of the virus was discovered in 2019, the biological name for the disease is COVID-19. A Coronavirus is from the same family of viruses as SARS, MERS and the common cold.
How is this virus spread?: The virus spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person, or contact with objects and surfaces that have virus contamination. Note: Infected persons may not show signs of infection due to an incubation period (2-14 days) between infection and symptoms. During the incubation period, the individual is still capable of transmitting the virus.
What do we know about the new variant of COVID-19: The new variant referred to as B. 1.1.7 is 71% more easily transmissible than the previous strain and has a higher viral load. It is likely the new variant will also respond to the current vaccines. It is believed that children are more susceptible to the new B.1.1.7 variant compared to the previous COVID-19. Although the new variant originated in the U.K., one case has been reported in California on December 28.
What are the symptoms?: Fever (greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit), dry cough, breathing difficulty and GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This may seem similar to the Flu. So when in doubt, please get tested since the course of the disease and the consequences are quite different. Please see our own articles on the Flu and the Common Cold on this website.
How much has the COVID-19 spread?: The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 disease a Pandemic and a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Within a few months, COVID-19 has spread globally in several countries in every continent except Antarctica. At present 188 countries have confirmed cases.
The epidemiology (incidence and distribution of a disease) of COVID-19 is changing so rapidly, the reader has to be aware of this when viewing any data on this website and in others.
Where can you find live updated information on the extent of spread?: The Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering gives a live update of the confirmed cases globally.
What are the mortality and recovery rates?: The global mortality rate is around 3.5% while the recovery rate is over 50%. According to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate is about 3.4%. In contrast, the global mortality rate of influenza is about 0.1%. The highest risk factors for COVID-19 mortality are age and immune status. People over the age of 60 are at significantly high risk compared to those less than 60 years old. People over the age of 80 are at the highest risk of mortality. People with any immune-compromised states including those from diabetes, medications or co-morbid ailments are also at increased risk.
How do you cope with the stress of living through a pandemic?: Living during a pandemic can be stressful for every person and for families. You are not alone. There are several well documented sources of support and information available. This downloadable document with clickable links will help you during these times of stress.
How can you reduce the risk of getting or transmitting this disease?: Here are important steps to reduce the risk of infection and transmission as recommended in the CDC guidelines.
- Social distancing: This means you deliberately increase the physical space between people to at least 6 feet. What this can do is slow down the spread of the disease.
- Quarantine: Many countries and states have enforced quarantines.
- Self-quarantine: If you are suspected of being infected or suspect that you may have come in contact with a confirmed infected person, stay at home for at least 14 days. If you are sick, stay home, be vigilant to the symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever (greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit) and dry cough.
- If you are sick, stay home, be vigilant to the symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever (greater than 100.4 Fahrenheit) and dry cough. It is best not to attend your Sai Center, Sai Center regional events, or Sai Service Projects when you are sick or not feeling well.
- If you are sick, please wear a face mask when you are around other people or pets.
- Be Safe and Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Please do not touch your face unless you have just washed your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Or, if tissue is not available, cover with your elbow. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Try to avoid international or long-distance travel while the World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have active travel warnings and avoid large gatherings or congregations if possible.
The References below are helpful and they have been carefully curated to provide authoritative and useful information:
Reference 1: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S.A. has provided succinct and useful information on their website which is frequently updated. This information is valuable as a ready reference with simple and accurate answers to frequently asked questions.
Reference 2: Questions and Answers from the World Health Organization - This article provides some answers to common questions on COVID-19 and is a good place to start.
Reference 3: This article from the respected medical journal The Lancet describes some of the most common symptoms when infected with this virus. The most common symptoms were fever, cough, fatigue/body ache and shortness of breath. These usually are followed by pneumonia. Less common symptoms were sputum production, headache, and diarrhea.
Reference 4: The World Health Organization also recommends several measures to prevent the spread of this infection. It is important to follow these preventive measures.
Reference 5: The following article from the World Health Organization gives detailed descriptions of safety measures in various settings such as travel, shopping and at home.
Reference 6: The latest information across the world on COVID-19 is updated daily and presented in this source. There are several articles here some of which are easy to read and some of which are technical.
Reference 7: This reference provides guidelines for healthcare providers when they see a patient suspected of COVID-19 infection. The guidelines are given by the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S.A.
Reference 8: The set of articles in this reference are useful for healthcare providers and updates the provider with current information.
Reference 9: This provides a set of articles from reputed journals and the National Institutes of Health that discuss various advances and current research on treatment options for COVID-19 infections. Some of the medications are being tested.
The most important steps one can take are steps to prevent the infection in oneself by following recommendations in the references above AND by assiduously taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus.