The world is in shock, twitter is in meltdown and China looks like the zombie movie World War Z (without Brad Pitt unfortunately). “Facts” and panic are disturbingly intertwined. To provide some guidance, here for all non-medical people (and maybe even some medical) a brief summary of what is going on and how worried you should be.
An old friend presented in a novel way
Coronaviruses have been around us for a long time. The name Corona comes from Greek meaning Crown because of how it looks under the microscope. There are different forms of coronavirus and we’ve known a few already:
– CoV: common cold, super common and mild symptoms
– SARS-CoV: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
– MERS-CoV: Middle East Respiratory syndrome
And now with the new outbreak:
– nCoV: the not so creatively named “novel Coronavirus”
In your life you have been infected with many coronaviruses only not with the dreaded novel, SARS or MERS variant, … just the common cold.
Don’t push the Panic button (… yet)
A little perspective, yes, the world is on high alert but at this moment there is no need to panic yet. I say “yet” because we’re still in the outbreak and who knows what will happen next.
At this moment the majority of the misery is in China. They have the highest number infected and deaths. There was only one country outside China with one death (Hong Kong not counting as separate country…), no other countries have yet reported. If you look at this table you can see how nCoV relates to the other Coronavirus pandemics as well as the H1N1 pandemic.
|Origin country||China||Saudi Arabia||China||Mexico|
|Number of people infected to date||28.276||2.494||8.096||208.269|
|Case fatality||susp 2%||37%||9.6%%||4.20%|
|Countries with reported infections||25||27||27||175|
|Countries outside origin with reported deaths||1||16||8||124|
You can see that although the infection is spreading fast in China, the spread outside is still rare as well as the number of deaths outside of China. This is all very reassuring for the rest of the world although it doesn’t helpt China much.
This is de guidance of WHO pandemic criteria and you can see we’re currently in phase 4. The big questions is, will we get to phase 5 or 6? In other words: will there be an outbreak of the nCoV in a different country than China? Time will tell…
No hahahatjooo, Do hahahahandhygiene
You never know what happens next so just be cautious. The most important way of prevention of most infectious diseases is hand hygiene. Not just a quick splash of water on your hands but a real soapy two-minute wash and dry your hands after. Do this after visit to the toilet, before eating and after coughing/sneezing and you will be alright. Also please cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing to protect your surroundings. And if you’re sick don’t go to work or a different place where you can infect many others (see also “8 things you though you knew about the flu“).
Facemasks: if it won’t help Spiderman and Batman, it won’t help you
Wearing an ordinary medical facemask, although you look super cool with it, doesn’t help against viruses. Sorry. You would need a special very tight mask that prevents you from even smelling perfume if it was sprayed on your face.
If you do wear a facemask, please put the outside on the outside. It seems a complete “duh” remark but trust me I’ve seen public health professionals getting it wrong. And finally dispose the mask yourself and don’t put others at risk.
Stay safe and keep informed!
For more information: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019