What is the Coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus outbreak that began at the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, China, is a new strain of coronavirus.
The virus, which is now officially coined Covid-19, has been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan which sold live animals as well as meat.
How is it Spread?
Covid-19, as a type of coronavirus, is likely spread through human-to-human contact.
Receiving packages from China is highly unlikely to put you at risk of catching Covid-19 as coronaviruses are unable to survive long on objects, such as parcels.
The incubation period for the virus is between 2 – 14 days, people may not show symptoms during this period, making it harder to control spread.
How can you keep yourself safe?
Whilst there is not currently a vaccine for Covid-19, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself.
WHO (the World Health Organisation) recommends the following to keep yourself safe:
- Regular hand washing
- Covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
- Avoiding close contact with anyone presenting symptoms, including coughing and sneezing
These steps are advisable in general to protect yourself against all viruses, including the Flu.
The key symptoms include a high temperature, a cough and shortness of breath.
If you present with symptoms you should not use antibiotics to treat as these will have no effect on a virus.
If you live in the UK the NHS recommends that if you are experiencing symptoms and have been to China or a nearby affected country within the last 14 days, you should contact 111 rather than attend a GP clinic and keep yourself in isolation (to prevent further spread if you are infected).
How Dangerous is it?
It is currently estimated that between 1 to 2% of infected people will die from Covid-19. Older people, those with pre-existing conditions (such as diabetes) and very young children are most at risk.
The coronavirus is concerning because it is a new virus and there is no vaccine yet developed. However, it is important to note that the Flu (or influenza) has killed around 10,000 people in the US during the latest Flu Season.
Whilst there is a vaccine for Flu, it currently presents a greater risk to people living in the UK or US than Covid-19.
How many people have been affected?
The latest statistics show that over 60,000 people have been infected worldwide with 1,370 deaths.
The vast majority of cases and fatalities have occurred in China and especially in the Hubei Province, where the virus originated.
Anti-Chinese Sentiment on the Rise
Following the development of Covid-19, some countries have reported shocking rises in Anti-Chinese sentiments. In the Netherlands, a racist song was played on the radio which included painfully insulting lyrics. In response, a petition named ‘We Are Not Viruses’ was set up.
Whilst the coronavirus is a real and dangerous threat to public health, blaming and ostracising the Chinese people is not the answer. We do not blame ourselves for the prevalence of the Flu in the UK or US (which has killed far more people) and we should not treat people of Chinese ethnicity any different.