Background - The coronavirus

In early March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic due to the rapid spread of severe respiratory-related illness - called Covid-19 (the 19 stands for the year the disease emerged - 2019). The official name of this new deadly virus is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. The disease that it causes is Covid-19.

The current problem virus: SARS-CoV-2 (henceforth called "the C Virus") is a member of a family of viruses named for the crown-like spikes on their surfaces - coronaviruses. There are seven strains of these viruses (including the new C Virus) that can infect humans. All seven cause illnesses in the respiratory tract, varying from four viruses related to common colds to the original SARS and MERS outbreaks and the new Covid-19.

It is believed that the C Virus originated in bats. It appears the pathogen jumped from bats to another animal mammal then mutated and jumped to humans. Health officials believe the outbreak in humans originated in a market in Wuhan, China that sold seafood and wild animals. It seems the first cases probably started in October or November 2019. But to be completely transparent, no one knows for certain how the virus was born and how it started afflicting humans.

Symptoms

People usually become ill between two and 14 days after being infected, with most patients showing symptoms about five days after infection. The C Virus affects the lower respiratory tract. Patients typically develop flu-like symptoms initially - such as fever, cough and body aches. In serious cases, symptoms progress to shortness of breath and pneumonia. Other documented symptoms include sore throat, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms can last from two to more than five weeks. Severity can vary significantly with some cases hardly showing any symptoms to critical cases resulting in intensive care hospitalization and death. The most endangered class of people are older citizens (60+) especially with preexisting medical conditions or people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. Only about 2% of cases reported so far have been in children - and they usually have mild symptoms.

What to do to protect yourself

The C Virus spreads in the same way that the cold or the common flu spread. There is voluminous information circulating on how to avoid infection and protect yourself. The best advice is to avoid all the crowds. If you must go out do social distancing. Wipe down and disinfect all problematic surfaces that you will contact - if you can. Aggressively wash and or/sterilize your hands up to the wrists. Do not touch any part of your face or mouth and nose and eyes. Use gloves or Kleenex to handle/touch doorknobs etc. Treat all strangers as potential sources of infection. Limit all potential exposures as much as possible. Shower as soon as you return home from errands. Leave your phone at home if you can. Keep your home and all main surfaces clean. If you notice any symptoms get in touch with your doctor immediately. Watch the news regularly and inspect websites and local sources of information. Keep in good communication with any older loved ones.