What is COVID – 19 and how did the virus appear?
The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes COVID-19 disease, named after the virus type and the year in which it emerged – Corona virus disease 2019. It appeared in late 2019 in the capital of the Chinese province of Hubei, Wuhan. In just a few months, it has spread globally and today more than one million people are infected worldwide. The numbers continue to rise and the virus is spreading at an incredible rate and is a global threat. Therefore, it is not surprising that the authorities of many countries have decided to quarantine or restrict the movement of citizens. For now, there is no cure for SARS-CoV-2, and the only way to heal is to get over the disease with your own immune system. Everything about how this virus came about, how long it incubated, what the symptoms are, and how to protect yourself from the virus, find out in the text below.
How did COVID-19 appear?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Although it has not been surely confirmed how this virus originated yet, it is considered to be natural and of animal origin. The origin of the virus is unknown, and it is interesting that it spreads only from human to human, and no recent transmission from animal to human has been recorded. According to an unofficial report, the first infection occurred on 11/17/2019. in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but according to a WHO official report, the first reported symptoms appeared on December 8, 2019. in a patient from Wuhan. 03/11/2020. The WHO has declared the pandemic of the coronavirus global.
Viruses are microscopic forms that are all around us, but also within us. They can be found in humans, animals, plants, some types of fungi and even in bacteria. They are very simple in their construction, but this is not their flaw. On the contrary, viruses, thanks to their simplicity, manage to reproduce so quickly and so well, creating major problems for the organisms in which they are found. Unlike fungi and bacteria, viruses cannot be grown on artificial nutrient media, because they display their characteristics of the living world only within an appropriate living host cell. The structure of the virus has been well studied since long time ago, so it has been found that each virus has a DNA or RNA molecule, which is surrounded by a protein sheath called capsid, around which an additional sheath made of protein, lipids and carbohydrates can be found.
Coronavirus is not unknown to human civilization, some viruses were recorded in the same group as early as the 1960s. In humans, this group of viruses usually causes colds and inflammation of the respiratory system, and since 2003, coronary viruses that transmit from animals to humans have appeared. Most notable in recent history are the SARS virus that appeared in China in 2002, and the MERS virus that appeared in the Middle East in 2012 and is still emerging. COVID-19 is named after the group of viruses it belongs to (COronaVIrus Disease) and year of origin (2019).
Why is COVID-19 so dangerous?
COVID-19 is considered a virus that does not pose a threat to the younger population but is very dangerous due to its rapid spread. Although in most cases the symptoms of the infection are mild and do not require medical help, there are cases that, regardless of age and strength of the immune system, have required medical help. The speed of spread of this virus is a problem for many countries, and as a result, prohibitions on movement are currently active and efforts are being made to create as much isolation as possible between people. With life normal, COVID-19 would begin to expand unstoppably, ultimately leading to health overload (current situation in Italy) and a higher percentage of deaths. This virus has an effect on the lungs, and older people often need the help of a respirator to treat it. Therefore, it is necessary to slow the spread of the infection, as it is currently the only way to fight it. Influenza season lasts several months and the wave of infected is normal, while in COVID-19 disease there is an exponential growth of infected and the virus survives on the surfaces for several tens of hours (which further accelerates the spread).
Incubation and symptoms of COVID-19 virus
The main thing that contributes to the rapid spread of the virus is its incubation. Specifically, after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, its incubation lasts 1 to 12.5 days. This leads to the unconscious spread of the infection among humans, because the carriers do not have any symptom of the disease. According to previous research, incubation of SARS virus lasts up to 14 days, therefore WHO recommended in case of contact with an infected person, self-isolation and monitoring of possible disease development for 2 weeks. There are also some cases where incubation has lasted more than 20 days, but their number is negligible and not relevant.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are different and vary from person to person. There is a milder notch type with classic flu symptoms, and a more severe type that requires respiratory treatment. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that primarily affects the respiratory system. The critical group is people over 60 and young people with some chronic illnesses.
Symptoms that affect most patients are:
- Dry cough
- In severe forms of the disease
In severe illnesses and the elderly, the following symptoms may occur:
- Absence of breath and shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- In a small number of people, runny nose
People with mild to moderate symptoms treat the disease at home, isolating themselves from other people to prevent the virus from spreading. In the case of severe symptoms, people are treated in a hospital connected to a respirator.
Prevention of virus corona spread
The vaccine for coronavirus does not exist, so the following are listed as prevention measures:
- Washing your hands frequently and using disinfectants (Read more about What are disinfectants?)
- Keep a minimum of 1 meter distance from other people
- Avoid touching the face, eyes and nose
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask
- Reduce or stop smoking and engage in activities that weaken your respiratory system
In many countries, quarantine and prohibition of movement from city to city are currently active. In this way, they seek to reduce the spread of the virus, which, without precautionary measures, could in the very short term affect the majority of the population and be a threat to a large number of people.