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*Covid-19 is new and it is a disease being spread currently throughout the world. Therefore, we do not have answers to some questions. Researchers and scientists are still finding out information about the disease. Therefore, some facts researched in this post can be modified or new findings could be added as the novel coronavirus spreads more throughout the world in this pandemic.
Covid-19 (Coronavirus Disease) is pretty scary since there is no vaccine or treatment. It is new and we don’t fully know or understand this virus. World Health Organization (WHO) said the death rate for Novel coronavirus infection is 3.4% globally (It was estimated at about 2% previously). Harvard professor of epidemiology, Marc Lipsitch predicted that the coronavirus can infect anywhere from 40% to 70% of the world’s population in the next year. On March 26, 2020, there are 491,180 coronavirus cases in the world and 22,165 deaths. This is not including people who have the virus but do not know they carry the virus since they have no symptoms or show symptoms yet. It is also possible that there are people who have the virus but have not been tested yet because testing is not available. With so much unknown and new factors of the Covid-19, I wanted to find out answers to some questions I had about the virus. In this post, I will share with you some common questions and answers to the novel coronavirus.
Can A Mask Protect You From The Coronavirus?
There are different types of masks for different purposes. Not all masks protect the same. According to FDA, N95 respirators is a personal protective equipment that is used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face. Also, according to CDC, N95 respirators can filter out at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles. All types of particles, including bacteria and viruses can be filtered out. N95 masks such as 3M N95 Respirators are sold out everywhere.
Surgical masks on the other hand, don’t have the same protection. They don’t fit as tightly as the N95 respirator. They also don’t really provide protection against aerosolized infectious agents in the size range of 10 to 80 nm. Surgical masks protect the environment from the wearer, whereas N95 respirators protect the wearer from the environment. Even surgical masks are hard to find.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) do not recommend public to wear masks at this time for two reasons. For one, there are great number of shortages of masks available so that the masks should be reserved for healthcare workers who are combating coronavirus on the frontline. According to the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, US needs at least 300 million N95 respirators for a potential spread of coronavirus in the country. However, US currently only has 30 million masks. If healthcare workers do not have masks, they won’t be able to take care of sick people who need medical attention. The second reason is the masks may not be effective in preventing people from getting coronavirus if they are not worn properly. Masks can be easily worn improperly and still possibly expose people to the virus. They can be uncomfortable to have them on for a long time and they can make it hard to breathe. According to Dr. Perencevich, masks can increase the risk of infection because people touch their face more often. Masks can also cause a false sense of security for people leading them to forget to wash their hands often and stop touching their face. Therefore, it is important that a mask is worn properly by the wearer. Also, hand washing and not touching your own face should still be practiced with a mask on.
What Is The Best Way To Avoid Coronavirus Infection?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent infection is to avoid close contact with sick people, wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. According to the study done by the University of New South Wales, observed students touched their faces 23 times per hour. 44% of all face touches had contact with a mucous membrane. Also, in the study of hand hygiene and face touching in family medical offices, family physicians and staff at 7 offices of the Cincinnati Area Research and Improvement Group (CARInG) practice-based research network were observed, staff overall only washed their hands following CDC guidelines 9% of the time. This shows people often do not wash their hands the way CDC recommends. Staying home and avoiding in-person contacts, washing hands properly, avoiding touching your face will all help prevent coronavirus infections.
How Long Does The Coronavirus Survive On Surfaces Or Objects?
In Hong Kong, health authorities found novel coronavirus on a prayer book and a restroom faucet presumably days after an outbreak at a Buddhist prayer hall. It is possible for people to get infected by touching a surface or an object that has the virus on it according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). People can touch their eyes, nose and mouth after touching the surface or an object. Then how long does the coronavirus last on surfaces or objects?
Since Novel coronavirus is new, it is not clear how the new coronavirus acts on surfaces or objects. However, we can see how long other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERs lasted on surfaces. According to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS survive on surfaces from two hours to nine days at room temperature. How long the coronaviruses lasts on surfaces will also depend on the material. According to the journal, glass, metal, wood, coronaviruses lasted about 4-5 days at room temperature. PVC, silicone rubber, ceramic and teflon lasted about 5 days at 21°C. Paper and plastic’s results varied depending on factors such as the type of coronaviruses, strain, room temperature, etc. On paper, they lasted anywhere from 24 hrs to 4-5 days and they lasted from 48 hrs to 6-9 days on plastic.
For Novel coronavirus, scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, did a study on how long the coronavirus remained infectious on everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting. They attempted to mimic the virus put on the surface when someone with the coronavirus coughed or touched objects. In the study, when someone sneezed or coughed, droplets with the virus can stay in aerosols for at least three hours and infect other people. However, half of the virus lost function after 66 minutes. Another half was gone after another 66 minutes which results in 25% of the infectious virus that’s left. At the third hour, 12.5% virus were viable. On cardboard, the virus was not active after 24 hours, and on copper after 4 hours. On stainless steel, half of the virus was inactive after 5 hours 38 minutes, on plastic, half of virus was inactive after 6 hours 49 minutes. However, on plastic and stainless steel, the virus lasted more than three days. Therefore, be careful touching surfaces like shopping carts, gas pumps, and door knobs.
* I just heard an alarming news yesterday that CDC said the coronavirus RNA was found on surfaces of the Princess Cruise ship cabins up to 17 days after passengers left. That is a lot longer time than the study I just mentioned.
Can A Disinfectant Kill The Coronavirus?
An earlier study of coronaviruses including SARS and MERS, the coronaviruses can be killed using common disinfectants. Household disinfectants such as Lysol or Clorox say they kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses including the human coronavirus. They have been proven effective in killing other human coronaviruses by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For the new coronavirus, the novel coronavirus, the Environmental Protection Agency released a list of disinfectant products approved for use against novel coronavirus on surfaces according to an article by ABC News. The list includes some Clorox, Lysol, Purell products. According to the ABC article, the companies had to demonstrate their products can even kill viruses that are harder to kill than the novel coronavirus. However, EPA says you should follow the instructions on the label of these products to be effective. The instructions include how long the disinfectants should be on the surface when cleaning. These disinfectant products such as Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner or Clorox wipes are sold out everywhere.
Will Summer Stop The Coronavirus?
Will summer stop the coronavirus? Cold and flu usually happens seasonally, prevailing in cold weather during the winter season. Coronavirus such as SARS retreated during the summer months. However, this novel coronavirus is new and we don’t know if they will still be around during the summer season. We don’t know for sure that The Novel coronavirus will behave the same. Many experts don’t think higher temperatures and humidity will make the virus retreat fully. However, they believe higher temperatures and humidity can decrease the number of people infected and slow the spread. According to Elizabeth McGraw, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, viruses don’t survive in humid and warmer temperatures well. Also, new preliminary research published by researchers in Beijing, Chin suggests that the high temperature and high humidity significantly reduce the transmission of influenza and that the arrival of summer and rainy season in the northern hemisphere can effectively reduce the transmission of the COVID-19.
However, in countries with warm or hot weather, there are people who are infected with the novel coronavirus. In Indonesia which has the warm climate just announced 500 Covid-19 cases and 48 deaths as of March 22, 2020. Also, it is summer in Australia where the average temperature is about 74 degrees Fahrenheit and 1,353 people got infected and 7 people have died as of March 22, 2020. It is possible that the virus slows down. However, it may not be fully gone and we can possibly have a second wave of a spread. At this point, health experts are not sure and it’s too early to conclude that the virus will be gone for good during the summer. McGraw of Penn State University says there are other factors that play a role in ending the virus other than the weather. Those include, human immunity, effectiveness of infection control practices and rate of the virus spread. There is also no clear evidence of members of the other coronavirus family, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) being seasonal. The World Health Organization (WHO) says novel corona virus can spread in all areas in the world including areas with hot and humid climate. Therefore, it doesn’t look hopeful that the corovirus will stop on its own with hot summer weather.
Can Pets Get The Coronavirus?
Some pet owners in China put masks on their dogs and cats during Covid-19 outbreak, fearing that their pets may get infected by the novel coronavirus. In 2003, scientists said the chance of pets getting SARS (a type of coronavirus) was extremely rare. Jane Gray, Hong Kong SPCA’s chief veterinary surgeon who was working in Hong Kong during SARS said that the virus was found in a small number of cats but there was no evidence shown that pets can spread the virus to humans.
In February this year, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said that a dog tested ‘weak positive‘ for the novel coronavirus. The dog didn’t show any symptoms. The AFCD also said that they did not have evidence that pet animals can pass the virus to humans. The dog’s owner, a 60-year-old woman, first tested positive for COVID-19 prior to dog being confirmed for infection of novel coronavirus. Experts from the University of Hong Kong, City University and the World Organization for Animal Health unanimously agreed that this is a probable case of human-to-animal transmission. However, experts say there is no evidence that dogs and cats feel ill after infection and also no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to humans. The World Organization for Animal Health advises if pet owners are infected, to avoid close contact with their pets. Sadly, this dog has died shortly after coming back from being quarantined. However, the reason for the dog’s death is unknown. Some animal-welfare experts said the dog could have died from the stress of being quarantined and separated from its owner. The Pomeranian was also 17 years old. The College for Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said the dog likely died from causes other than Covid-19 since the dog didn’t show any symptoms.
In Hong Kong, a second dog was tested positive for coronavirus. The Hong Kong government said the dog didn’t have any symptoms of Covid-19. The dog owner tested positive for Covid-19 and two of the dog owner’s dogs were tested after that. One of the dogs tested positive for the coronavirus. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said that infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations including the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, all agree there is no evidence that pets become ill with Covid-19 or that they spread it to other animals or people. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention also advises that if you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. It seems that there may be a possibility that a human can transmit the virus to dogs but no evidence of dogs transmitting the virus to humans. Animal welfare organizations fear that there may be a surge in abandoned pets in China due to the false information that pets can spread the virus.
Is It Safe To Receive Mail or Packages?
I order a lot of packages through Amazon and I wondered if its safe to receive mail or packages. With social distancing, it makes more sense to order online than going to the store physically and avoid contact with other people. According to Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security as well as the World Health Organization say that it is safe to receive packages during the Covid-19 pandemic from China or anywhere else including overnight or domestically. The virus needs a special combination of environmental conditions to remain viable such as temperature, humidity, UV exposure. Dr. Amesh A. Adalja said temperatures of air surrounding packages or transit conditions do not promote viral viability. Novel coronavirus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours according to a study conducted with members of the Laboratory of Virology with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, this study is preliminary and it has not been published or peer-reviewed. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) says there is likely a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that is shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures since coronavirus such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have poor survivability on surfaces. However, there is still a lot we don’t know about the newly emerged COVID-19 and how it spreads. Currently, there is no evidence of the virus transmitted through imported goods from countries such as China. If you want to be really cautious, you could dispose the outer packaging boxes and wash your hands immediately.
How Does Covid-19 Affect Children Under 10 Years Old?
According to The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), children do not appear to be at a higher risk for COVID-19 compared to adults. In general, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented mild symptoms such as a runny nose, cough and fever. According to the report of the WHO-China Joint Mission published on Feb. 28 by WHO and a paper by the Chinese CCDC released on Feb. 17, which is based on 72,314 confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in China, no fatalities has been reported for children under 9 years old. In Italy, more than 300 children have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Italian Paediatric Society in early March. However, no fatalities have been reported. Other places like Spain and South Korea also had no fatalities among children under 10 years old so far. However, young children can still have severe or critical cases. In Spain, 34 out of the 129 cases among children 0 to 9 years old (The total cases in Spain was 28,600 as of March 21.) resulted in hospitalization (26%) and one child was put in the intensive care unit (0.8%) as of March 21.
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, among 2,000 young children with Covid-19 in China, most had mild symptoms or some had no symptoms at all. The most vulnerable age among children under 10 years old were infants less than 1 year old. In the study, it showed that 10.6 percent of severe or critical children cases with Covid-19 were under 1 year old, about 7.3% were children between 1 to 5 years old (4.2% for 6-10 years old, 4.1% for 11-15 years old, 3% for 15-16 years old). Preschool-aged children and infants were more likely to have severe cases than older children. While the percentage of children affected is lower than the older age group, infants and toddlers with other conditions can still have severe cases of Covid-19. Children with simultaneous respiratory infections or underlying health conditions can be at risk with Coronavirus Disease. Importantly, children with mild symptoms or no symptoms can still spread the virus to the most vulnerable age group. The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) advises children to consider postponing visits or trips to see older family members and grandparents.
[Update March 20, 2020] There was news on March 28, 2020 that an infant under one year old had died after testing positive for the coronavirus in Illinois, USA. Specific cause of death of the infant is not clear yet and it is being investigated. I also found that there is also at least one 10-month-old infant in Wuhan that died after being diagnosed for the coronavirus and staying in the hospital for 4 weeks after admission. The infant died from multi organ failure.
There is news that South Korean researchers discovered neutralizing antibodies for COVID-19 providing clues for a vaccine. That is good news. Many countries are in the process of finding a cure for the disease. However, the number of people who are infected and affected are getting bigger by the day. We don’t know how long it will take for this novel coronavirus to retreat and for us to develop the vaccine to treat affected patients. This will be a long and difficult time for most people. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy.
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