Why People Are Panicking Over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Healthcare Topics | NEIH

Updated: Mar 19


Understanding the Corona Virus

The Corona Virus is considered a novel virus. A novel virus means a brand new virus, something the world has not seen before. This virus was first reported on December 1st 2019 in China. From December 1st, 2019 to March 11th, 2020 the virus has spread to nearly 100 countries across the globe. The cause of concern comes from the fact that Viral infections are vastly different from bacterial infections. Patients with bacterial infections such as strep throat (caused by streptococcus bacteria) can be treated with a 2-week prescription for antibiotics. However, viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, in fact, once a patient has been infected with a virus sometimes the only option is to let the virus run its crouse. The only treatment for a virus is preventive care through vaccines.

  • Vacations are usually only effective if they are given to a person BEFORE coming into contact with the virus NOT AFTER. Due to the fact that the coronavirus is a novel virus or new, scientists have not had enough time to work on a vaccination, so countries have no defense against this infection.

  • For more information on the difference between bacteria and viruses read our blog Virus vs. Bacteria.


Understanding the Lethality Rate of Coronavirus

The death rate of a virus relates to the odds of someone dying from the infection not the percentage of those who have died. For example, The Centers for Disease Control reported that out of the 45,000,000 million people that were confirmed to be infected with the influenza virus (common flu) in 2017 -2018, 61,000 people died from the infection. That brings the lethality rate for influenza for those years to less than 1%. However, the Lethality rate could be higher for certain groups of people especially for those that have health conditions or those with compromised immune systems.

  • As of March 11th, 2020, the worldometer reports that out of the 125,815 confirmed corona cases 4,607 have died due to the infection. Base on those figures alone the lethality rate for the coronavirus is 3.66%. However, this estimate can be misleading. The lethality rate for the coronavirus is still being determined.

  • The evidence gathered to date seemingly suggests that older people with existing medical conditions have the highest chance of dying from infection. The worldometer reports that the lethality rate is not distributed evenly across age groups.

  • For example, ages ranges from 10-39 have a death rate of 0.2%. While those 70-79 have a death rate of 8% and 80+ age groups have a death rate of 14.8%. (As of March 12th, 2020)

How the Coronavirus Spreads

The exact information on how the virus spreads cannot be known with 100% certainty as information is still being gathered. The CDC currently states that the virus can spread through person to person contact and droplet spread. People are Advised to stand 6 feet away from others and cover the mouth with your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Droplet spread refers to the spread that comes out of people's mouths when they cough or sneeze. The virus can be transmitted when this spread makes contact with another person's mouth or nose. The virus is thought to be able to infect people if inhaled, making healthcare workers take airborne precautions. Asymptomatic people or people who do not show symptoms are thought to still be able to transmit the virus.


Preventing Infection

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick

  • Avoid contact with others who show symptoms of being sick

  • Wash hands regularly warm water and antibacterial soap

  • Use hand sanitizer after touching objects like doorknobs, elevator buttons, countertops, etc.

  • Avoid touching face or putting fingers in your mouth

  • Avoid large gatherings

  • Wear an N-95 respirator if you travel on public transportation

Precautions for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers such as Patient Care Technicians EKG Technicians, Phlebotomy Technicians, Medical Assistants, and Surgical Technicians should take extra precautions when treating patients in a healthcare setting. Reminding your self to wash hands and don PPE before and after contact with each patient as this can help prevent the spread of infection from patient to patient, patient to coworkers, and from patient to yourself. Staying home when you are feeling ill is incredibly important, be sure to review your facility protocols for infection control during this time. Patients who show symptoms of being infected with the coronavirus may be required to wear a mask while in waiting rooms or be placed in an airborne infection isolation room. Be sure to know your facility's protocol to be able to respond accordingly when the situation arises.

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