Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Facts: What You Need To Know
Where Did COVID-19 Start?
On December 31st 2019, the city of Wuhan, China reported 44 pneumonia cases of unknown origins. A few weeks later, they discovered that this pneumonia outbreak was caused by a new strain of coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially coined this new strain as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), while the disease was called “coronavirus disease 2019” or COVID-19.
Where Do Coronaviruses Come From?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that usually affect birds and mammals. They are zoonotic, which means they can be transmitted from animals to humans. Speculation says that COVID-19 originated from the exotic animal markets of Wuhan where the first cases were discovered. The exact species of the animal, however, still remains unknown.
Other strains of the coronavirus, like the SARS and MERS-Cov, originally came from civet cats and camels respectively.
Can You Get It From Your Pet?
Nope, you can’t get coronavirus from domesticated pets.
So How Do You Get Infected With COVID-19?
The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets from infected individuals. When these people cough or sneeze, the droplets are projected into the air and enter your body through the mucosal linings of your mouth, nose, and eyes. You can also get it if you come in contact with the saliva or nasal discharge of infected folks. Experts believe that people with more severe symptoms are also more likely to infect others.
While there’s no definite proof of how long the virus can live on surfaces around infected people, it can probably survive for a few hours to a couple of days, just like other coronaviruses. The good news is that standard disinfectants can effectively kill the virus and prevent them from spreading further.
Contrary to popular belief, this disease is not airborne. Here’s a quick rundown on the key differences between droplet and airborne transmissions:
Can You Get It From Packages From China?
The virus doesn’t survive very long on objects like letters, and packages, and doesn’t do well with various changes in temperature. While travel bans to countries with reported infections have been implemented, it’s still relatively safe to receive packages from these places.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms of COVID-19?
The signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 are deceptively mild, starting out with flu-like symptoms such as:
- difficulty breathing
- runny nose
- sore throat
According to the WHO, 80% of infected people can recover without any special treatment, but those who are very old or predisposed with other conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems could suffer from complications like pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure, and eventually, death.
Infected people can show symptoms within 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you or someone you know are showing these signs and symptoms, see a medical professional immediately.
Is There A Cure?
Just like most viral diseases, there currently isn’t a cure for COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work on these types of diseases. Tests for a vaccine and a possible cure are underway, though.
The vaccine is currently being developed by a biotech company based in Massachusetts. According to the latest reports, they will probably start testing on humans in April 2020.
Clinical trials for the antiviral drug, on the other hand, have already begun on patients who presented severe symptoms like abnormal chest x-rays, rattling sounds when breathing, and the need for a mechanical ventilator. The drug, called remdesivir, is an antiviral initially developed to cure Ebola. The tests are currently being done in Nebraska and China.
How To Prevent COVID-19 Infection
Since the cure is still a long way off, the best way to combat this deadly disease is to avoid getting infected in the first place. Here’s what you can do to prevent getting sick from COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with affected or suspected individuals. Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet, since droplets usually cannot be propelled farther than that.
- Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth. These are the most common entry points of the virus.
- Avoid large crowds and refrain from traveling to places with confirmed COVID-19 cases. If you can, avoid taking public transport, taxis, or ride-sharing vehicles. If you’re not sick, avoid going to hospitals and clinics.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol should do the trick.
- Regularly wipe surfaces and high-touch areas like doorknobs, tables, and countertops with disinfectant spray or wipes. Don’t forget to clean your phone regularly, too.
- If you’re not feeling well, opt to quarantine yourself. Refrain from going outside unless it’s for medical care. Wear a mask to prevent the possible spread of infection. Stay in a separate room, and if you can, use a separate toilet, too.
- Observe respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth when sneezing, or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
- Discard tissues promptly and properly.
- Do not wear multiple masks or self-medicate on antibiotics. These are not effective measures against the virus and can do more harm than good.
The COVID-19 Death Toll
As of this writing, there have been 105, 586 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 91% of which are from China. The current total death toll is at 3,584.
102 countries have confirmed cases of COVID-19, prompting the WHO to raise the global risk assessment to “very high”. If this rate continues, COVID-19 could become a full-blown pandemic in no time.
What Is A Pandemic?
A pandemic is defined as a wide-spread disease that affects the whole world. But how does an “ordinary” disease blow up into a global phenomenon?
A study from Johns Hopkins noted that the following factors made for a perfect pandemic situation:
- A disease that is usually viral and respiratory in nature, has a significant fatality rate and can be transferred from one human to another
- Presence of virulence factors that prevent the virus from being detected by the host’s immune system
- The absence of a cure or vaccine
- A vulnerable or non-immune population
And you guessed it— COVID-19 checks all these boxes and more.
What’s worse is that our current society is practically primed for a pandemic.
Think about it: although modern healthcare has grown leaps and bounds since the Spanish Flu, the spread of diseases has also become much faster thanks to cheaper travel, denser urban populations, and our increased dependence on establishments where lots of people gather, like supermarkets and malls. Diseases are also getting stronger, with some microorganisms developing resistance to antibiotics.
As for the COVID-19 situation, health care professionals and governments from all over the world are now scrambling to control the disease from further spreading with tight travel bans, strict quarantine policies, and rigorous testing procedures.
Meanwhile, the stock market is taking a nosedive as multiple industries remain paralyzed.
And get this: somewhere out there, people are literally fighting over the last can of tomato sauce in supermarkets.
How does a pandemic affect the world as a whole, and what can you do to prepare?
The Effects Of A Full-Blown Pandemic
When poorly controlled, a pandemic could trigger social unrest, economic instability, and widespread panic.
Nope, this isn’t some fear-mongering mumbo-jumbo. Since news of the COVID-19 crisis broke out, the following events have actually taken place :
- Multiple states and countries have declared states of emergency to better deal with the spread of the virus. Despite the government’s best efforts, though, there’s still an alarming shortage of COVID-19 test kits, making the disease difficult to trace and control.
- People have begun panic buying, emptying stores of essentials like canned food, water, and toilet paper. Australia is actually facing a toilet paper shortage crisis.
- Prices of masks, hand sanitizers, and even hazmat suits have soared. Healthcare professionals and frontline workers are facing a shortage of protective supplies.
- Tourism industries the world over have tanked. Entire theme parks, hotels, and tourist hotspots have temporarily closed due to lack of visitors. People who work in the tourism industry have been out of jobs for weeks on end.
- Supply chains and markets, especially those that depend on China for products, have been disrupted. Chinese factories have temporarily shut down due to quarantines.
- Schools and businesses have temporarily been closed. Events like conventions and concerts have also been canceled because of health concerns.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before the authorities are overwhelmed and all hell breaks loose. In that instance, the public’s panic may be worse than the actual effects of the disease itself.
As a prepper, you have to prepare for the worst. Here’s what you can do:
What You Can Do To Prepare For A Pandemic
Your most effective survival tool is the one between your shoulders. Keep a level head and don’t buy into the hysteria caused by sensationalized news reports, and the public’s overreaction. Get information from verified sources and act accordingly.
For example, just because your neighbor’s hoarding all the TP at Costco doesn’t mean you should, too. All that toilet paper in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t sanitize or wash your hands. Instead, you might want to prevent getting the disease by staying at home and keeping your surroundings clean.
Keep calm and be proactive, not reactive.
Observe Social Distancing
Social distancing is a nice way of saying “avoid other people” during a pandemic outbreak. As mentioned earlier, most pandemics are caused by respiratory diseases that can be transmitted through droplet transmissions, so you need to keep your distance from people.
Social distancing also helps prevent the disease from affecting at-risk populations, such as the very old, the very young, and the immuno-compromised. Look, you may survive the virus unscathed but think about those who can’t.
Avoid taking public transport if you can, and skip out on big gatherings like conventions, events, concerts. Avoid visiting hospitals or clinics unless you really have to. Non-essential travel, especially long-haul flights, cross-country train rides, or multi-day cruises are also a huge no-no.
If you’re not feeling too peachy yourself or have traveled to places with active COVID-19 cases, opt to stay at home and self-quarantine. You can even set up a DIY quarantine area like this if your local hospitals become overwhelmed
Limit The Touching
In a pandemic, it’s best not to shake hands with anyone. Nods and fistbumps are relatively okay, though. Bows and curtsies? Sure, whatever floats your boat…as long as you don’t touch hands.
Avoid touching high-contamination surfaces like public door handles and gas pumps with your bare hands. Open or close doors with your fist, hip, or foot if you can, and use a tissue or gloves when handling gas pumps, too. Use your knuckle or elbow when using light switches, doorbells, and elevators.
If and when you have to go out— which we don’t recommend— wipe down grocery cart handles, tables, and seats with disinfectant wipes.
Prepare To Bug In
If you’ve been a good survivalist and have regularly been squirreling away supplies, now’s the time to let that prepper pantry shine. Forget bugging out in the woods— bugging in is imperative during times like this.
Staying at home prevents you from contracting the disease and keeps you safe from all the social unrest happening outside. Need a refresher on building a prepper pantry and bugging in? Here’s the ultimate resource.
Protect Your House From Looters
When poop inevitably hits the fan and riots ensue, you want to make sure that you’ve got enough protection from the baddies. Fortify your home and protect your family with these tried-and-tested tips.
Create A Pandemic Or Contagion Kit
A pandemic or contagion kit basically has everything you need to survive an outbreak: disinfectants, protective gloves, masks, rubbing alcohol, antibacterial wipes…the whole shebang. This kit will help prevent the spread of the disease, so make sure to pack one in a sturdy plastic crate that you can store in your home.
Keep Your Surroundings Clean
As mentioned earlier, cleanliness is one of your best weapons against the spread of any communicable disease. Wipe down high-touch surfaces like counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches and the like.
A disinfectant spray like Lysol can kill 99% of bacteria and viruses. If you wanna zap viruses, make sure that the surface stays wet for 10 minutes. Use this disinfectant spray on areas where you keep trash cans and wastebaskets, too.
You can also dilute a disinfectant solution like Lysol or bleach with water and use it to mop down floors.
Build Up Your Immune System
Protect yourself against diseases by building a strong immune system. Stay hydrated, keep a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and stock up on multivitamins. Sounds pretty basic, but remember: a good immune system doesn’t develop overnight. Start developing habits that your body will thank you for when SHTF.
Stock Up On Meds
According to the CDC, most people with COVID-19 can recover safely from home. This means that you have to stock up on over-the-counter medications to help treat its symptoms while the disease runs its course.
These medications include:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for fever, aches, and pains
- Phenylephrine (Robitussin) for stuffy nose and colds
If you need prescription medications, have scripts filled out ahead of time. Make sure you at least have a 30-day supply of medications on hand, so you don’t risk running out.
Stay updated with the right information. Read verified updates from the WHO and your local government units.
A global crisis like the COVID-19 can be alarming, but you don’t need to panic. Remember, this is why you prep in the first place. With the right information about how pandemics work, ample supplies, and a level head, you can prevent hysteria, make the right decisions, and ultimately stay healthy.
What preparations do you have in place for you and your family? Sound off in the comments below!