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COVID-19 21st Century Pandemic: Everything You Need to Know



It seems like yesterday that our lives were normal. We were going to work, taking our kids to school, enjoying college life, traveling, and living our everyday lives until things got serious. I had read about this emerging virus in December 2019. By January 2020 the chatter was getting louder coming out of Wuhan. Dr. Li Wenliang's work at Wuhan Central Hospital sent out the first warnings on December 30, 2019, to his fellow medics that an epidemic was brewing. He was silenced by the local police for making “false claims”. Nothing could have been farther from the truth as he ultimately died from the Covid-19 virus. He is considered by many to be the first hero of what is now a global pandemic battle.


By February 7, 2020, we were getting news of the infected passengers of the Diamond Princess Cruise ship with 3700 passengers on board, of whom 41 had tested positive for the novel coronavirus (or Covid-19). A separate cruise ship, the World Dream, was also being quarantined in Hong Kong, with multiple passengers testing positive for the virus. I became alarmed in late January and began ordering N-95 masks and supplies for my medical practice, but I was surprised that our government had not issued any alarm. Once the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Sea’s docked in Bayonne, NJ, with multiple Covid-19 infected passengers, the “shit” got real for America.


The first confirmed death in the US from the virus appears to be of a 57-year-old Californian woman on February 6th. She was a relatively healthy woman in the Bay Area who was employed by a semiconductor company. She didn’t smoke, exercised routinely, watched her diet, and was not taking any medications. Many have tried to downplay Covid-19 by comparing it to the annual flu. There really is no comparison as this novel coronavirus is a lethal and different viral enemy.


It has been very frustrating as a medical professional watching what appears to be a slow-moving train wreck. The government response is out of our control. However, we can empower ourselves with knowledge.


What is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a type of virus found in mammals and birds that cause disease. Coronaviruses have been responsible for other outbreaks, such as the common cold, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the bird flu, and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). They are called coronaviruses because of their crown-like spikes on their surface seen under an electron microscope. The human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960. There are currently (7) coronaviruses that are known to infect humans:

  1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)

  2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)

  3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)

  4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

  5. MERS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)

  6. SARS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

  7. SARS-CoV (novel coronavirus that causes the new Covid-19 disease)

The more common coronavirus infections are 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1. Coronaviruses that infect animals can occasionally evolve and be transmitted to humans causing new illnesses. Examples of this include Covid-19, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.


How is the Covid-19 virus transmitted?


Respiratory infections like Covid-19 are typically spread by aerosol transmission. The respiratory droplet sizes vary and can affect the radius of transmission. According to current evidence, the Covid-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes. An analysis of 75,465 Covid-19 cases in China revealed that airborne transmission was not reported, which supports the idea of multiple modes of transmission.


Droplet transmission can occur within a radius of 6 feet of someone who is infected with the virus and has respiratory symptoms like coughing or sneezing (greater distances have been reported). Realize that if you are in the presence of an infected, symptomatic individual, no distance is truly safe. An exposed individual is at risk of having the mucosa of their mouth or nose, or eyes in contact with potentially infective respiratory droplets. Transmission can also occur by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces (especially surfaces in their immediate environment) that have come in close contact with infected individuals.


Asymptomatic individuals with Covid-19 have really muddied the waters! Research has confirmed that up to 25% of infected individuals may not have any symptoms. This would suggest that these patients are “leaking” the virus when they exhale, sing or talk. A new study released by the CDC suggests that pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic infected people can transmit the infection to others.


How long can Covid-19 survive on a surface?


The Covid-19 virus is spread primarily by person-to-person contact. The greatest risk comes from being in the proximity of an infected individual who is coughing and/or sneezing, projecting droplets containing the virus into the air. However, you can become infected by touching an object or surface that is contaminated with the virus and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.


The coronavirus or Covid-19 can live for hours up to days on surfaces like countertops and doorknobs. How long it survives on a surface depends on the material that the surface is made from. Many of these surfaces we come in contact with almost daily. Researchers are learning more about this new virus daily. Scientists are still unsure whether exposure to heat, cold, or sunlight affects how long the virus can live on a given surface.


Here’s a list of what is known about how long the virus lives on surfaces:

  • Wood – (examples furniture & decking) 4 days

  • Metal – (examples doorknobs, jewelry, & silverware) 5 days

  • Plastics – (examples packaging like detergent bottles and milk containers, bus and subway seats, backpacks, & elevator buttons) 2 to 3 days

  • Cardboard – (examples shipping boxes) 24 hours

  • Stainless steel – (examples refrigerators, pots and pans, sinks & some water containers) 2 to 3 days

  • Copper – (examples pennies, teakettles, & cookware) 4 hours

  • Aluminum – (examples soda cans, tinfoil, & water bottles) 2 to 8 hours

  • Glass – (examples drinking glasses, measuring cups, mirrors & windows) up to 5 days

  • Paper – the length of time depends on the strain of the virus. Some can live for only a few minutes on paper, while others can survive for up to 5 days.

  • Ceramics – (examples pottery, dishes & mugs) up to 5 days

Thankfully Covid-19 does not appear to spread through exposure to food. However, it is a smart idea to clean all fruits and vegetables before eating them. Some even recommend scrubbing them with a brush or your hands to remove any possible contaminants.


What is the best way to disinfect surfaces?

The best disinfectants that are known to kill coronaviruses are diluted solutions of household bleach, solutions containing at least 70% alcohol, and EPA-registered household disinfectants. Remember to wash your hands often using soap. If you do not have hand sanitizer, you can always make your own.


Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe

The formula is very simple. You will need 70% rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, aloe vera gel, and an essential oil (like lavender, tea tree oil, or lemon). The most important thing to remember in order to have an effective virus-killing solution is to maintain a 2:1 ratio of alcohol to aloe vera. This will keep the alcohol concentration at or above 60%. This is considered the minimum concentration needed to kill most germs, by the CDC.

 

Finally, knowledge is your power and protection, not fear! Here are some coronavirus tips.

  1. Wash your hands regularly!

  2. Practice social distancing and stay at home. No non-essential trips out of the house!

  3. Always stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

  4. Always wear a mask when in places with other people. Asymptomatic, infected people are how the virus has spread so rapidly. This does not apply to kids under 2 years of age and individuals with breathing difficulty.

  5. Avoid touching your face and picking your nose!

  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

  7. Wear gloves when possible when out in common areas.

  8. Get vaccinated when the vaccine is available!

 

Remember, your health is your wealth and your survival!

More updates to follow.

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