When will this virus go away?
Jim was going to take his husband out dancing. He wanted to go out to the clubs and experience what he thought he’d experienced when he was single…minus the flirting and possibly drinking to excess. He wasn’t going to let a virus scare him into staying home. He knew that the gay scene itself had changed due to his age but he didn’t care. He was looking for the one night where he and his partner could go out and become enthralled with the music and dance until they worked up a sweat. Maybe they would leave by 12:30 and be home by 1:00. But in the back of his mind the thought of the corona virus set up shop. And he wasn’t ready to conform to a life of being indoors permanently.
The problem was evident. How is the corona virus changing the landscape of America? We know that the virus is here, and it seems right now like it’s here to stay. Jim is HIV positive and isn’t sure how this virus will impact his life. He wasn’t sure if he should be doing the things that he enjoyed doing before the virus invaded America and subsequently, his life. He wasn’t sure what to believe as the government or rather, the president came across the local airwaves and proceeded to give misinformation about the virus. In the end, some people were confused and unsure of what to do.
This did not stop people from making a mad dash to the market and clearing out the aisle that contained bread as well as the adjacent aisle that held paper products. And as he picked up the few things that he needed, he wondered how his world will change.
The scary part about all of this is that he has deliberately chosen to tune out the words of the president despite how somewhat presidential he sounds. Instead, he pays attention to the health experts that he has surrounded himself with. He’s finding that most of his family members and people that are in his social circle of doing the same thing. He knows that there is no sense in panicking. That will not accomplish anything because like it or not, the world is changing. Instead, he sought some information that we are willing to share with you. Some of it is common sense and others may be new to you.
What is the coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, some of which can infect people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.
What is a novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2019 novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel member of the coronavirus family — SARS-CoV-2 — that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.
There is still much to learn about the disease. Globally, about 3.4% of people infected with COVID-19 have died. At greater risk are people with chronic health conditions and the elderly. For perspective, flu cases currently dwarf the number of COVID-19 cases, although the death rate is less than .1%.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, include respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, it can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
How can I prevent getting the new coronavirus?
The World Health Organization has the following recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including the new coronavirus:
- Frequently clean your hands by using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
- If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share your travel history with your healthcare provider.
- Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk, and animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, per good food safety practices.
Should I wear a mask?
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection, according to the World Health Organization. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask to protect others and seek medical care.
The WHO states that a medical mask is not required if you are healthy, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons. However, masks might be worn in some countries according to local cultural habits. If masks are used, best practices should be followed on how to wear, remove, and dispose of them and on hand hygiene action after removal.
Can antibiotics prevent and treat the new coronavirus?
Like the common cold, there is no specific antibiotic or medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. But people infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive medical care, which may include antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
How did the new coronavirus start?
The National Health Commission in China informed the WHO on Jan. 11 that the new coronavirus outbreak is linked with exposure to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are common in people and many species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rarely, animal coronaviruses infect people and then spread person-to-person, such as with MERS, SARS, and this new coronavirus. All three of these viruses are betacoronaviruses, which have their origins in bats.
How are governments trying to control the spread of the virus?
The Chinese government has taken extraordinary measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, both within the country and across borders. Wuhan and many other cities are in lockdown, affecting over 51 million people. The government has suspended transportation and launched a massive program to ramp up the number of hospital beds.
The World Health Organization has also been working with the Chinese government and others to track the spread of the disease and advise health authorities. Many airlines have stopped flying to China, and in countries where cases have been identified, people infected are being isolated for treatment and monitoring.
As countries and communities respond to the virus by closing schools and places of work and imposing quarantines, along with people limiting public interaction, it is children and the very poor who will be greatly impacted. Any loss of work for people who survive on minimal earnings will have a devastating impact on household incomes where people survive from day to day. The price of food and goods is also likely to rise as shortages emerge and people begin to hoard supplies. The very poorest won’t be able to stock up in the same way, and the loss of earnings will make it very hard for them to feed their children.
What is the difference between an outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic?
When even one case of COVID-19 is diagnosed in a new location and determined to be locally transmitted, it is an outbreak. When it spreads rapidly to many people, that is an epidemic. A pandemic occurs when it spreads globally.
According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic can occur when three conditions have been met:
- A disease emerges which is new to the population.
- The virus infects humans, causing serious illness.
- The virus spreads easily and sustainably among humans. Most people will not have immunity to the virus.
The WHO is extremely careful about when to declare a pandemic. It seeks to avoid creating panic that a declaration can bring. However, a declaration can also spur countries and individuals into action to do more to prevent the spread of the virus.
Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses. The 2009 swine flu pandemic is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people. With no vaccine currently available, containing the spread of COVID-19 is vital.
Although the seasonal flu can spread globally, the mortality rate is typically much lower and a much larger number of people have immunity.
How is World Vision responding to the coronavirus-caused disease pandemic around the world?
World Vision teams worldwide, and particularly across Asia, are doing all they can to keep children, families, and their communities safe. In China, World Vision aims to support nearly 1.3 million people at an estimated cost of $4.7 million. World Vision will not only respond to the rapid increase in the emergent needs for protective and hygiene items, but also to the needs for psychosocial support and future preparedness.
“Time is of the essence,” says John Teng, the national director for World Vision in China. “… China faces one of the biggest crises it has seen in recent history.”
World Vision is working in collaboration with local authorities, hospitals, academic institutions, and other humanitarian organizations, prioritizing the response to the needs of children, their families, and their communities, as well as local health workers.
“With many cities on lockdown and livelihoods affected in many situations, it’s critical to ensure that people have the resources and knowledge to be able to care for themselves and their families, especially as children are vulnerable in such situations,” John says.
Our response includes providing face masks to communities and health workers, distributing hand sanitizers and other personal hygiene items, and supporting efforts by local health authorities, schools, and local partners to communicate stay-safe health messages.
World Vision staff member Che Zifa helped distribute surgical masks to a rural community in Honghe County on Feb. 3. Honghe County is located more than 700 miles southwest of Wuhan, China, epicenter of the pandemic. “Although we all wore masks, we still felt nervous,” Che says.
World Vision is also working on a global preparedness plan with all its offices.
How is World Vision responding in the U.S.?
World Vision warehouses in Washington state, New York City, Chicago, Texas, West Virginia, and Connecticut are stocking up on items that its partner network of churches, schools, community- and other faith-based organizations can use to prevent infections. These supplies include liquid and bar soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, face masks, and disposable bed sheets. We are also collecting emergency protective supplies for immediate distribution to over 900,000 children, school staff, and parents. Staff members also are working on procuring additional supplies for which the demand is highest, such as disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
Sara Goble teaches first grade at Reed Elementary. She’s shopping at World Vision’s Teacher Resource Center in Fife, Washington, to pick up school and cleaning supplies. Teachers at schools where a high percentage of students are on free or reduced lunch can visit twice a year and pick up free school and cleaning supplies. “I would be buying all of this on my own if I didn’t have World Vision,” she says. Sara says that having the sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer available is especially important with the new coronavirus much on everyone’s minds. “It’s been very stressful,” Sara says.
Carol Santos-Warner teaches at Midland Elementary in Franklin Pierce. She brought her 8-year-old daughter, Jahana, with her to World Vision’s Teacher Resource Center. Jahana helps her mom pick up school supplies, including much needed sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer. “The sanitizing wipes are gold right now,” Carol says. “The kids I work with [with special needs] are more vulnerable because of the virus and the pandemic.” Carol has been coming to the Teacher Resource Center twice a year for four years now.
Hygeia Suarez teaches English Language Learning at Four Heroes Elementary in the Clover Park school district. She’s visiting World Vision’s Teacher Resource Center to pick up cleaning and school supplies. The cleaning supplies — including hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes — are especially critical now amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus.
Editor’s note: I did not come up with the statistics for this article. The statistics written belong to Heather Klinger and Kathryn Reid of World Visions staff in the US.