Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions
It is important to note that information on the COVID-19 virus (or the novel coronavirus that was discovered in 2019) is constantly changing. The FAQ’s in this article are current as of 3/23/2020. The information herein is strictly for educational purposes and not meant to be a substitute for medical care given by a physician or licensed medical provider. The information provided is not meant to help in the diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of a disease or illness.
Is the Coronavirus Worse than the Flu?
Yes! The COVID-19 virus is a new virus and therefore globally people have not built up an immunity to the virus. That means everyone is susceptible to the infection and COVID-19 is much more virulent. It is much more damaging to the body and the early crude mortality ratio for COVID-19 is between 3% and 4%. It is important to note, that without knowing how many people are actually infected, we can’t accurately report the percentage of people who will die from COVID-19.
It is easy to understand how it can be compared to the flu. Like COVID-19, the flu affects the respiratory tract, with the elderly and immune compromised being the most vulnerable. However, the mortality rate for the flu is usually around 0.1%.
Can Children Be Affected by the Coronavirus?
Yes, anyone can be affected by the coronavirus and it may appear similar to any other respiratory tract infection. This may include but not be limited to cough, fever, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea and tiredness. Thankfully, the mortality rate in children has been very low.
How is the Coronavirus Spread?
The virus is spread from person to person via respiratory droplets. This can occur when a person coughs, sneezes, talks or even exhales. These droplets can land on surfaces (also known as fomites) and spread to others who touch these surfaces and subsequently touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. People can also inhale these droplets directly from another person, which is why it is important to keep at least 6 feet away from others. At this time, it is best to assume everyone is infected, rather than taking the chance of contracting and spreading the disease to others.
Is the Coronavirus Airborne?
As of now COVID-19 is not considered airborne. The classification of "airborne" is reserved for those viruses that are infectious even after drying out in the air. Viruses like measles and chickenpox are examples of airborne viruses that can be transmitted even after the moisture has dried up and can travel in mediums such as dust and air particles.
It is easy to confuse airborne vs. non-airborne viruses. The WHO has stated that COVID-19 most likely spreads via droplets. An example is moisture droplets from people breathing or coughing. Because the virus affects the nose, mouth, and throat, when an infected person sneezes, talks, coughs or even breathes, there will be virus particles within the moisture and droplets of your breath and these can infect other people. Transmission is most likely to occur within 6 feet. However, in spaces where there is recirculated air like airplanes and cruise ships, the distance could be farther. This is why reducing social contact is so important!
Is there a Cure for the Coronavirus?
No! Right now there is no known cure or vaccine for the disease. 80% of cases are being considered mild. The symptoms are considered “mild” in the sense that a person will not need to be hospitalized or require oxygen, and the body will be able to fight off the virus by itself. In some cases, a person may even be asymptomatic and not even realize they are carrying the virus. The other 20% will require hospitalization.
Complications such as pneumonia or sepsis may develop. Lack of oxygen reaching the organs can also have severe complications such as organ failure, cardiac arrest, and ultimately death. Supportive care such as oxygen, fluids, and mechanical ventilation can be used to support a failing body.
Why is Social Distancing and Staying Home so Important?
The coronavirus is only spread by people who are contagious. People can begin spreading the virus before they even show symptoms. This period of time when a person is contagious could last a few weeks to a month. So in theory, if we all self-isolate and clean any infected surfaces, the virus would disappear in a month or so.
So many people have been infected at this point that this best-case-scenario is far too simplistic. Until people have acquired immunity (example from exposure and recovery) to the virus or a vaccine or cure is developed, we want the spread of the virus to be as slow as possible.
The goal of slowing the spread of the virus through social distancing is to give the healthcare system more time to treat each individual case as well as develop treatments. It is imperative for us to follow national advice, and guidance given by the The World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Wash your hands and surfaces, avoid touching your face, stay home, and self-isolate if you display symptoms or have risk of exposure. The goal here is to “flatten the curve” and deal with the cases on a longer basis. In doing so, the health care system has a chance to not be overwhelmed and the survival rate will increase.
What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. However, there are also reports of patients experiencing aches, pains, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, shortness of breath and even gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.
80% of people will recover without needing any medical treatment; however, 20% of individuals may need to seek medical attention. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), around 1 in 6 people who contract COVID-19 will become seriously ill, develop difficulty breathing, and should seek medical attention.
Older people, those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, immune disorders, and high blood pressure are at an increased risk of developing serious problems.
How Long Does The Coronavirus Survive on Surfaces?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) this information is not known. It may persist on surfaces for several hours to days. The best practice is to disinfect surfaces frequently, wash your hands with soap or alcohol-based rub, and avoid touching your face.
Is the Coronavirus Worse than the Swine Flu?
Yes, as of now, it appears to be more infectious and have a higher mortality rate.
Does the Coronavirus Affect Animals?
Technically yes, but so far we have not seen any strong evidence to support this. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no evidence that our pets can become infected or spread the virus. It is mainly spread through infected individuals who cough, sneeze, or breathe droplets. Therefore make sure to wash your hands frequently.
Is the Coronavirus Man-Made?
While conspiracy theorists will have a heyday with this one, as of now, there is no evidence to support this theory. However, COVID-19 is a disease that jumped from animals to humans and therefore an argument could be made that it is man-made or spread in places where poor animal welfare occurs, such as wet markets. It could also be argued that the global spread of the virus has been made worse by our massive global connectivity.