By Sean Stewart, SONO Contributor
Sean Stewart is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. He has an interdisciplinary PhD and served as a college professor for 12 years.
As with all viruses, it’s best to be careful when you’re in a situation where exposure is possible. This is why we must all be mindful of the new coronavirus strain, now named COVID-19, that originated recently in Wuhan, China. In just a few weeks, it had already spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Nepal, France, Australia, Canada, and the USA.
Previous variations of the coronavirus were limited to animals, and it’s rare for this class of viruses to evolve to infect humans. Only a few strains have been known to pass between people, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but they cause respiratory problems that are exponentially more severe than the flu.
SONO medical grade disinfecting wipes are EPA registered to eliminate human coronavirus (ATCC VR-740) and SARS associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV Urbani strain 200300592), so they’re a strong defense against the toughest viruses you might encounter.
The coronavirus mutation we’re seeing now is spreading among humans rapidly. It is very dangerous for anyone with a compromised immune system, with 2,345 deaths reported in China as of February 21, and more than 75,000 people infected. At this point, most new infections are being seeing in China, but the potential exists for the virus to be spreading rapidly in other countries. Among the most concerning developments are reports of “supercarriers” unknowingly spreading the virus because they don’t have any symptoms.
Signs And Symptoms
Health officials report that symptoms can appear up to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. Most confirmed cases have displayed the following:
– Muscle pain
These are the commonly reported early signs of coronavirus, but it later attacks the respiratory system, causing breathing to become very difficult. Severe cases lead to pneumonia, with X-rays of infected patients showing a build-up of fluid in their lungs. The only way to diagnose infected people is through a series of tests.
If you believe you are sick, whether it be the flu or the coronavirus, the first thing you should do is cover your mouth when you cough. The best way is to cough into your elbow. Since it can cover most of your mouth, it reduces the chance of spreading germs through the air. Then immediately visit a doctor to be examined.
How It Started
A seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, China appears to be the source of the virus. It is an open market, where humans work closely with a wide variety of animals, including chickens, pigs, snakes, dogs and bats. Bats were the cause of the last SARS epidemic, but it has not been confirmed yet if they are the only source of the new coronavirus outbreak. Early genetic testing has shown the virus came from bats, but more research is needed to determine if the virus jumped to one or more other animals before it was transferred to humans.
China has since closed the Wuhan market and others like it to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread.
The majority of COVID-19 cases are in Wuhan, and the government has workers spraying disinfectant throughout the city.
Quarantine Enacted In China
China has quarantined the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, and Chiba. All public transportation into these locations, including buses, trains and flights have been stopped. The four cities have a total population that exceeds 20 million people. Based on 2019 US census data, that’s roughly equal to the population of New York or Florida.
The timing of the quarantine and virus outbreak was problematic because January 25 was the start of the Chinese New Year. It’s typically the most traveled day of the year, and is often referred to as the largest annual human migration in the world. After declaring a citywide emergency, Hong Kong canceled all of its celebrations. Beijing and Shanghai canceled all New Year events as well.
The counties surrounding China, specifically Vietnam and South Korea, have enacted quarantines to limit the movement of their citizens. They have so far not had large numbers of citizens infected, but there have been small pockets of people getting infected.
The USA has arranged for a series of flights to remove citizens and diplomats from Wuhan and other areas of China. Some US hospitals have also already begun setting up quarantine areas to use if the virus overwhelms them. The US military has also committed space on some bases for hospitals to use as housing for infected individuals. As of Feb. 21, the US has an estimated 34 cases of coronavirus, which includes passengers evacuated from a cruise ship where COVID-19 was spreading among the passengers.
World Health Organization (WHO) Response
At the end of January, the WHO declared this a global emergency. Its officials are working with countries around the world to help them limit the spread of the virus. The declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), is meant to help support less developed countries by preventing the virus from spreading to places that aren’t equipped to detect the disease or handle mass infections.
The WHO is currently advising countries to not restrict trade with China or close their boarders to travelers. However, some countries—including the USA—are starting to restrict air travel and close their borders. Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergency chief, told reporters in January that if most countries implement trade and travel restrictions, it will be an economic, political, and social “recipe for disaster.”
In the past decade, the WHO has declared global emergencies 5 times: Swine Flu (2009), Polio (2014), Ebola in West Africa (2014), Zika virus (2016), and Ebola again, but in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2019), but none have caused as much alarm as the current crisis.
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What You Can Do To Stay Safe
There are currently fewer than 50 reported cases of COVID-19 in the US, so there’s no need to take extreme measures immediately, but traveling outside the USA is not recommended by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC).
Wash your hands regularly
The CDC says washing your hands is your best defense against infections and viruses, including coronavirus. Germs can live on most surfaces for hours, and are commonly passed among people through physical contact.
The CDC has a detailed process it recommends for hand washing. These are the steps :
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
If you’re not close to a sink, hand sanitizer is a good alternative—but be mindful that it’s not as effective as soap and water. The CDC advises you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Be sure to check the product label for the alcohol content.
Additionally, a general precaution for avoiding all viruses is to not touch your mouth, nose, eyes or face with unwashed hands. Your hands are the most likely way for a virus to enter your body because they touch contaminated surfaces frequently.
A suggestion from the WHO is to maintain social distance from other people. You can’t predict when someone might cough or sneeze, so it’s best to not get within 3-feet of other people. Obviously, this is very difficult to do in crowds, so avoid them when you can as well.
If the virus were to spread rapidly, the next best step is to wear a surgical mask in public. This will protect you from airborne germs that get expelled when people sneeze and cough. And if you become ill, wearing a mask can help protect the people around you.
As more cases are confirmed around the world, many people will be asked to quarantine themselves. You’re much less likely to be exposed to the infection if you don’t have contact with anyone, but this would be very difficult for most people to achieve. Few have enough non-perishable food stored in their homes to live this way for long. But if you’re concerned the virus will spread throughout the USA, now would be the best time to start collecting supplies.
Start using medical-grade disinfectants
Kurt the CyberGuy Knutsson appeared on Fox News in January to discuss what gear can be used to protect yourself from the coronavirus. One of his recommendations was to use SONO medical-grade disinfecting wipes for everything you touch, especially when you’re traveling. You can see the full interview here:
Here’s how you can disinfect against the worse viruses like COVID-19 on your phones, light switches, door handles and any other hard, non-porous surface using SONO Disinfecting Wipes:
- Wipe the surface until it is visibly wet with the wipe solution.
- Maintain a wet surface for at least 10 minutes, using multiple wipes if needed.
- Allow to air dry.
The most important step is to give the SONO formula time to work on the surface before touching it.
Aside from washing your hands regularly and disinfecting your home, office and vehicle with SONO wipes, be sure to eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. Your body can defend against viruses best when you’re well rested.