image courtesy of 59th Medical Wing
Today, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. What is this virus that has touched almost every person’s life?
At the beginning of 2020, following a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new strain of a virus: 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). It’s a respiratory illness that broke out in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and has made its way to other international locations, such as the United States. The hardest-hit countries so far have been China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea.
The 2019-nCoV spreads from people that are close to each other, similar to the way the flu spreads. For example, it can be spread by coughing or sneezing. The length of time before symptoms appear is between 1 and 14 days, which allows the illness to go undetected for a while. Additionally, the virus is fairly contagious.
Coronavirus causes pneumonia, and that is what causes the danger. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer from coughs, fever, and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, there can be organ failure, which eventually results in death. However, coronavirus leads to death usually in cases where the person already suffers from a compromised immune system.
As of 3/11/2020, there have been more than 121,700 cases and 4,378 deaths, and those numbers seem to be on the rise. However, the majority of those cases, 80,761 of them, are in China. Currently, 1,015 cases are from the United States, and 31 people have died. Even though there have been only a few cases in our immediate area, there have been 19 confirmed diagnoses as of Tuesday, March 10th.
Aside from the direct impact of the disease, the coronavirus effect has been pervasive in many other ways. The stock market has dropped around 2,000 points, travel restrictions have been placed, stigmas around certain communities have arisen, and people have started to stock up in things such as toilet paper and water, causing stores to place limits on how much of those products you can buy.
Even 4 schools in the Chicago area have been closed down. You may have seen on the school website the warning for coronavirus has gone from green to yellow, inciting some panic.
So what can we do?
You may have noticed that face masks may be out of stock in shops after the first outbreak of coronavirus. But honestly, face masks are loose and can be penetrated, which is why scientists doubt the effectiveness of them. The World Health Organization suggests that while the masks do not protect people from contracting the virus, the masks do filter up to 95% of infected particles from spreading.
What you can do is wash your hands with soap, cover your face when coughing or sneezing, and visit a doctor if you see symptoms. Get sleep and vitamins to improve your immune systems because coronavirus mainly affects those with compromised immune systems, which means most high schoolers can fight it off if they take necessary precautions. Most importantly, don’t come to school if you are feeling sick. Look here for further prevention details