Coronavirus 101: What You Need to Know (What It Was Like to Not Be Worried)

By: Nicole Chedraoui

If you’ve fallen down the never-ending hole of media clickbait regarding the so-called fatal Coronavirus, take a deep calming  breath. The odds of contracting, let alone dying, from the Coronavirus are severely low. It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria when the media shoves negative, hyperbolic news down the throat of the public. The best way to squash this anxiety is by not allowing yourself to be brainwashed by the frenzy the media creates and educating yourself on the sickness.

The virus began in 1965 when five cases were detected, mainly causing harm in young children’s respiratory tract. It was then when it acquired its name “Corona ” for it’s crown-like shape.  Later, in 2003 a few cases of (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) were found, causing significant death at the time. Since that time, the only signs of this rare virus being detected was in animals such as bats and snakes, until January 2020.

The disease hit central Wuhan, China, in early January.  Many of those affected either worked or shopped at a popular wholesale seafood market in town, which was initially presumed to be the host of the virus. This particular strand of human Coronavirus is baffling experts around the world, as they continue to search for the possible origin of the virus, varying treatments, and a possible cure. 

As Coronavirus continues to be a novelty to doctors, new evidence suggests the most likely culprits responsible for transmission of this disease are snakes, camels, cattle, cats, and bats, because these animals have been known to be common carriers of the disease. The thing that challenges doctors the most is the transmission of the disease from these animals to people that, in turn, infect other people. The probability of the disease being carried through these hosts is incredibly rare, so doctors around the world are issuing precautions when interacting with people in areas possibly plagued by the disease. 

Most often, the spread of this disease from person-to-person, is through close contact, mainly via droplets that linger in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These respiratory pathogens can land themselves on the mouths or noses of people nearby, where they are inhaled and contaminate the lungs.  As of right now, it is unclear if a person can become infected by the virus by touching an object or surface that the virus rests on. If the virus has spread to your city, doctors advise not to touch your nose, eyes, or mouth with your fingers after coming into contact with a potentially infected area.

What exactly are the symptoms of this virus?  You may be shocked to learn that these symptoms are extremely similar to those of a common cold or influenza. However what is unusual about this strand of 2019-nCOV, is that many diagnosed with this illness have had little to no symptoms, while others suffer with acute illnesses symptoms. Possible symptoms include, fever, runny nose, cough, virus shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, fever, chills, nausea/stomach distress, sore throat, loss of appetite, or body aches. The Center for Disease Control believes symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

As of February 9th, the Coronavirus death toll has hit 812, with 37,251 current cases in Wuhan, China. In America, a total of twelve people have tested positive for the virus, with no deaths to date. Many are comparing this outbreak to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome–different strand of Corona) outbreak of 2002-2003. On February 8th, 2020,  this strand of Corona surpassed the death toll of SARS.  At least 25 countries have confirmed cases of this virus, and have performed major evacuations and procedural quarantines. China is doing everything in their power to fight off this infection, having allocated approximately $10 billion to fight the Coronavirus as of February 8, 2020. The ministry is releasing funds to ensure members of the public can afford diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, schools in Hebei will remain closed until March to control the outbreak, and Malaysia has expanded their Chinese travel ban after China’s decision to lock down cities in the province.

Are we still deep breathing? As scary as all this information seems, media headlines are making it much more frightening than it is. Experts agree the flu is more of a threat to the general public than Coronavirus is. The 2019 Coronavirus strand has almost identical symptoms to the common influenza. While there have been only 37,251 cases of Corona (with 812 fatalities), the flu has already killed 8,200 people just THIS SEASON, with over 140,000 reported hospitalizations.  According to the Center for Disease Control, there are as many as 5 million severe cases of flu worldwide each year, and 650,000 deaths. Axios news phrased it best when they said, “If you’re freaking out about coronavirus but you didn’t get a flu shot, you’ve got it backwards.” When it comes down to hard facts and statistics, the flu is the real silent killer in all of this, but even when reporters disclose these facts, the hysteria continues.

As mass irrationality continues regarding this illness, a new plague has arisen in the media: racism.  As experts continue efforts towards containing this virus, people in countries including South Korea, Malaysia, the U.K. and Canada are reporting the spread of anti-Chinese racism, attacks on the country’s cultural morals and businesses with signs saying, “No Chinese.” When news of this virus hit the interent, users of social media everywhere began  posting racist content targeting Chinese people and their ethnicity–mainly through sharing  xenophobic memes online.  These groups of people are allowing their fear to determine their actions to the point where many natives feel as though their ethnicity is defined by this worldly disease. Phan, a native man of Wuhan China, recently interviewed by the news outlet The Guardian summed up the situation best. He said, It’s important to see us in all our diversity, as individual human beings, and to challenge stereotypes. The coronavirus is a human tragedy, so let’s not allow fear to breed hatred, intolerance and racism.”

In conclusion, don’t fall for the scary headlines you see on the news. We are all in fact, not going to die. However, it is flu season, so remember to take preventive measures to stay safe and healthy. If you are suffering from the sniffles, I hope this calms your inner hypochondriac, and if you happen to see any racist Coronavirus memes while scrolling through your phone later, maybe send them this article.    

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