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If you have been following the buzz around world news, then you are sure to have heard of the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020. In fact, discussions on this dreaded virus (aptly nicknamed by some as the “demon virus”) have taken the center-stage all across the globe.

While the danger of this highly contagious virus becoming a pandemic (a global epidemic) is real, the situation can improve with proper awareness and by taking the right precautions.

In any case, although the media reports and a collapsing global stock market may stoke further fears, the situation is not so bleak at present, and a vast majority of patients are only suffering from a milder form of the infection, and will recover from it.

This guide covers all the essential aspects of the coronavirus outbreak and its present outlook in detail, so that you are equipped to make safe and wise decisions for you and your loved ones.

Coronavirus 2019 aka COVID-19 – What is it?

You might be surprised to learn that a Coronavirus is a fairly common, infection-causing virus, much like the seasonal flu. In fact, it even shares many symptoms with the common flu, like a blocked or runny nose, heightened sinusitis, infection in the throat, etc.

Why then has it become such a terrifying issue, and is it really as deadly as it is made out to be? The answer is both yes and no.

Coronavirus first came into global perception during the late 1960s, but its origin is as yet undetermined. The virus can be of different types, with the most common strain only resulting in relatively harmless flu-like symptoms. The medical community also shares that almost everybody gets hit with this virus during their childhood, typically resulting in fever or the common cold.

While many strains of the virus are still unidentified, there have been three instances reported so far of widespread and potentially fatal infection across the globe. These include:

1.     MERS, 2014 – 2015

This originated in the Middle East, specifically in Saudi Arabia, with flu-like symptoms that quickly escalated into a fatal respiratory infection (hence, the name – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

Soon, it spread to other countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa. There were also 2 cases of MERS reported in the US in April that year. But perhaps the biggest fatalities came from its spread to Korea in 2015, and the virus outbreak affected over 800 people in total.

2.     SARS 2003

This was caused by a different strain from the MERS Coronavirus outbreak, and fatally affected over 700 people across the globe.

Note: Both types of the Coronavirus were considered fatal at the time of the outbreak, as they were unidentified until then, and thus without a readily available cure. Today, the medical community considers both these virus types to be containable, and thus no fresh cases have been reported since.

3.     COVID-19

This relates to the current outbreak, which first began in a small food market in Wuhan, China, late last year. As with previous outbreaks of the virus, this too is attributed to a different (and thus perhaps uncommon) strain of the humble Coronavirus.

It was named as “COVID-19” by the World Health Organization (WHO), as the virus gained global infamy early this year, as it began quickly spreading to other parts of the world.

It is these 3 fatal outbreaks that have caught public attention, and resulted in widespread paranoia about the original virus. Regardless of the type of Coronavirus, it is considered zoomatic, meaning that it affects both animals and humans.

In fact, researchers believe that the virus begins with animals (typically bats), and later progresses to humans through contact. Researchers also believe that the current outbreak of COVID-19 began with bats, later to snakes, eventually affecting humans.

COVID-19 – Symptoms to watch out for

Remember that the original virus strain causes symptoms that are eerily similar to the flu. So, this includes the common cold, throat infections, mild difficulty in breathing, fatigue, fever, coughing, etc.

But what differentiates the deadly strain from the common (manageable) virus, is the possibility of escalation of the infection. If the person infected has a weak immune system, it can lead to pneumonia or acute breathing problems, eventually leading to respiratory failure.

Is it contagious?

Yes it is, through person to person contact. This means that it can spread through any of the following means:

If you have flu-like symptoms, should you be worried?

First, don’t panic. Remember that the common flu involves a comprehensive list of symptoms, including a blocked or runny nose, common cold, sore or itchy throat and other throat-related infections, headache, fever, shivering caused by chills, fatigue, frequent sneezing, coughing, and body aches.

As you can see, this is quite a common list of symptoms that people typically fall prey to, as seasons change.

Your symptoms need immediate medical attention when:

Do note that these symptoms are in no way comprehensive, and may be indicative of COVID-19. New information about the virus (including potential symptoms) is being discovered every day.

Are there any further complications, beyond flu-like symptoms?

Unfortunately, yes. This is what makes the disease so deadly!

Other potentially fatal complications that could arise from the COVID-19 disease include:

As you can see from the above list, COVID-19 typically affects the lungs and the heart. But in serious cases, in can also affect other parts and organs of the body, including the stomach, intestines, blood vessels, liver and the kidneys. In these cases, it is not so much the disease itself but the body’s response to the complications that causes the damage. (These may also be heightened by a weakened immune system.)

When should you panic?

Hopefully, never! But, you should seek immediate medical attention if:

Here, do note that the symptoms for COVID-19 can take anywhere between 2 to 14 days to manifest, after initial infection. The sooner it is discovered, the higher the chances of managing it.

Is there a cure for COVID-19?

At present, there is no cure that has been discovered. However, the medical and scientific research communities are hard at work, unearthing new information about the virus every day.

Also remember that too was the case with MERS and SARS. Once they came to global attention, it was only a matter of time before a cure was found. Likewise, the medical community is frantically working to cure/contain the present viral strain of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, doctors are working to manage current infections of the virus through:

Will infection of the virus automatically lead to death?

This will come as a big relief, but the answer is a grateful No.

Based on current research (which is expanding every day), doctors have found that it can be fatal when the disease affects:

In other surprising results, studies indicate that men, especially over 45 years old, are more vulnerable to infection. (Yes, women seem to be the stronger force in fighting COVID-19!)

Global outlook so far

This guide is meant to help you stay updated and thus make informed decisions regarding potential COVID-19 infection. With this, here is a brief summary of statistics of the disease this year:

Also – before you panic or reach for a mask or even consider quarantining yourself – do note that 60 cases have been reported in the US, of which 6 have already recovered. In addition, every attempt is being made to manage the 44,000+ cases still under infection all across the globe.

Precautionary measures you can and should take at this time

As that wise old adage goes, precaution is indeed a billion times (or more!) better than finding a late cure. For this reason, protect yourself and your loved ones with these simple measures.

Critical Information

Information and numbers relating to COVID-19 are rapidly changing every moment. The latest updates on global statistics can be retrieved here. If you are worried about potential infection for you or someone you know, it is best to consult a doctor right away.