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COVID-19 – 2020 has started off on a really bad foot. We are now facing a virus that scares us because of the unknown. In this article, we made a list of all the most important data we could find on this virus and wanted to share it with you. So feel free to read more about the COVID-19 virus.

What is the COVID-19 virus?

Did you know that human coronaviruses are common throughout the whole world? The name corona refers to a crown. Why you might ask? Because when viewed underneath an electron microscope these viruses are seen having crown-like spikes on their surfaces. There are many different coronaviruses identified in animals, but only a small number of these diseases can affect the humans. Some of these viruses such as 229E, NL63, OC46, and HKU1 are common causes of illness in humans around the world.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed in January 2020 as the causative agent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Although there has been an ongoing sustained transmission of COVID-19 in countries all around the world to date, the specific source of the virus is not yet known. “Co” stands for corona, “VI” for virus, and the “D” for the disease. This disease was referred to as “2019n novel coronavirus” or ”2019-nCoV”.

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Are we at risk of the COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new disease, and unfortunately, there is limited information regarding risk factors for this severe disease. But based on currently available information and clinical expertise, the following people are more at risk for the COVID-19:

  • Older adults (65 years and older)
  • People of any age that have severe underlying medical conditions
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe Asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People with Diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease
  • People with HIV

How long does the COVID-19 disease last on surfaces?

The coronavirus can live for hours to days on surfaces like countertops and doorknobs. The question about how long does it survive on surfaces depends on the material the surface has been made of:

  • Metal: Doorknobs, jewelry, silverware – 5 days
  • Wood: furniture, decking – 4 days
  • Plastic: packaging like milk containers and detergent bottles, bus seats, backpacks, elevator buttons – 2 to 3 days
  • Stainless Steel: refrigerators, pots and pans, sink, some water bottles – 2 to 3 days
  • Cardboard: shipping boxes – 24 hours
  • Copper: pennies, teakettles, cookware – 4 hours
  • Aluminum: soda cans, tin foil, water bottles – 2 to 8 hours
  • Glass: drinking glasses, measuring cups, mirrors, windows – up to 5 days
  • Ceramics: dishes, pottery, mugs – 5 days
  • Paper: The length of time varies with this one. Some strains of the virus can live on paper for just a few minutes, while others can live for up to 5 days.
  • Food: The virus does not seem to spread through exposure to food. But you should still wash your fruits and vegetables under running water before consuming it.
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How does the COVID-19 disease spread?

Respiratory transmission

From the beginning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that the SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus and is mainly transmitted between people through “respiratory droplets”. These droplets can be spread through people that are sneezing and coughing without covering their mouths or noses. A safe distance of 2 meters is recommended between people.

Aerosol Transmission

In order for the virus to be able to spread without being coughed or sneezed in large drops of mucus, it has to find another way to spread. This is another complicated factor in figuring out the transmission of the disease. People emit virus particles in different ranges of sizes, and some are so small that it is enough to be considered aerosols or fine particles.

These particles can be suspended in the air for hours and can travel on air currents across a distance. A New England study has shown that virus particles that are aerosolized could remain viable for up to 3 hours. However, it is not all clear if the COVID-19 is commonly transmitted via aerosols.

Contact Transmission

This is one thought that is playing a lead role in the spreading of this virus. In this situation, the viral particles emitted from the respiratory tract of an infected person lands on a surface. The non-infected person then touches the object/surface and then touches their eyes, mouth and even their nose. The virus then sneaks into the body via the mucous membranes and infects the second person. And so the cycle goes on and on.

wash hands

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?

The virus that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic has not been detected in any drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtrations and disinfections should remove or inactivate the virus. Most of the municipality drinking water systems in South Africa are equipped with this method.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

You can be sick with the virus for 1 to 14 days before you start showing any signs of symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. The good news is that about 80% of people that are infected with COVID-19 recover from this disease without needing special treatments.

In some cases, the disease can be serious and even fatal. Older people and people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or even heart disease are more vulnerable to this disease and can become severely ill. Other symptoms that people also might experience are difficulty breathing (this usually happens in severe cases).

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How can I help to prevent the spread of this disease?

There is only just so much one can do to alone help prevent the spread of this disease. To help reduce your chance of catching or spreading the COVID- 19 disease, you should clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects in your home and office every day. This includes:

  • Countertops
  • Tables
  • Doorknobs
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Phones
  • Keyboards
  • Remote controls
  • Toilets.

You can also prevent the spread of this disease by doing the following:

  • Staying at home when sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands often with water and soap
face mask

What countries have been affected by the COVID-19 virus?

COVID-19 has been spread all around the world, leaving no country behind. From the beginning of this virus up to date, there have been 2 012 063 people around the world that were tested positive for COVID-19. It is sad to say the deaths total around the world stands at 127 493 and climbing. The recovery total stands at 489 795 people. When looking at the statistics, you can see that the United States of America has the most cases of positive testing and deaths than any other country in the world.

As of 15 April 2020, there were 2 415 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and 27 deaths in South Africa. There were also 410 recovered COVID-19 patients.

Do’s and Dont’s of COVID-19:

Do:

  • Maintain good hygiene
  • Clean surfaces thoroughly
  • Keep towels separate from your loved ones.
  • Clean bathroom, door handles, taps and other surfaces in the bathroom frequently when you are sharing a bathroom with other people.
  • Clean your hands often and thoroughly with alcohol-based hand rub or spray
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use tissues and dispose of them immediately after use in a separate rubbish bag.
  • Stay in your house, keep it well ventilated.
  • Discourage any visitors to your home when you are self-isolating.
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Don’t:

  • Do not stock up on sanitizers (be considered about others too)
  • Do not hard groceries
  • Do not wear any masks if you are feeling unwell
  • Do not fall for Whatsapp forwards
  • Do not be lured into planning a  trip (stay at home and practice social distancing)
  • Do not panic and don’t spread panic as well
  • Do not let this virus scare take a toll on your mental health.
  • Do not shame people by assuming they have the virus and treat them differently, politely ask them to get tested if they show any signs of the symptoms.
  • Do not hide symptoms if you are experiencing them, get yourself tested and you can save yourself and those around you before it is too late.
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Now that you have a better understanding of this virus, let us help each other by following the rules and practicing social distancing. After the National Lockdown, we know that life will not go straight back to normal, but we as South Africans will stand by each other and give support to each other where it is needed. Stay safe and remember to wash your hands.

You are more than welcome to visit the following websites to learn more about the COVID-19 virus, as well as to stay up to date about the cases and deaths in South Africa:
https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?