Coronavirus (COVID-19): What We Know So Far

In December 2019, Chinese health authorities reported cases of acute respiratory illnesses caused by a novel coronavirus never before seen in humans in Wuhan, a city in Hubei, China. The disease, now referred to as COVID-19, has rapidly spread across the globe, prompting the World Health Organization to declare it a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Three months into the outbreak, we probe into what we know so far.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): What We Know So Far

In December 2019, Chinese health authorities reported cases of acute respiratory illnesses caused by a novel coronavirus never before seen in humans in Wuhan, a city in Hubei, China. The disease, now referred to as COVID-19, has rapidly spread across the globe, prompting the World Health Organization to declare it a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Three months into the outbreak, we probe into what we know so far.

Are Coronavirus, COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2 Different?

Coronavirus is the blanket term encompassing a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans.

SARS-CoV-2, short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2, is the name of the 2019 strain of coronavirus, while COVID-19, refers to the disease that the virus causes. Bats are natural hosts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but as they typically do not directly transmit to humans, the current belief is bats may have passed the virus on to other animals who then somehow spread it to humans. 

Before the COVID-19, two other coronavirus diseases have caused global outbreaks. The first was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) originating from China in 2002, believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans. The second is the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS) emerging from Saudi Arabia in 2012, thought to have been transferred from camels to humans.

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Read also the articles about differences between COVID-19 and SARS and COVID-19 vs Flu for more information.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) identifies the three most common symptoms of COVID-19 as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The degree of respiratory illness varies from mild to severe, depending on the affected person’s underlying health conditions. The CDC also notes that symptoms may appear anywhere between 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that some of those infected may have aches and pains, runny nose, diarrhea, sore throat, nasal congestion, and dry cough. In contrast, some may not have any symptoms at all.

How is it Transmitted Between Humans?

When a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, they can release small droplets from their mouth or nose, which then lands onto any surface around them. The virus spreads when other people make contact with these surfaces, and then end up touching their mouth, eyes, or nose. The new coronavirus can also be acquired by a person who breathes in droplets that are coughed out or exhaled by an infected person. For this reason, adhering to social or physical distancing (staying 1 meter or 3 feet away from a person) is encouraged worldwide, to avoid further spread of the disease.

Are There Other Potential Modes of Transmission for COVID-19?

Gastroenterologists from China and Singapore have published studies suggesting the fecal-oral route may be another method of transmission for the SARS-CoV-2. Although the WHO does not entirely dismiss this theory, the evidence available is not substantial enough to warrant their formal recognition.

On the other hand, reports have emerged of a Chinese official claiming that aerosol transmission (droplets spreading through surrounding air) may spread coronavirus. However, an Australian infectious disease specialist quickly dismissed this, stating the lack of experimental evidence supporting the claim. The WHO also highlights that droplets are too heavy to remain in the air, thus debunking the airborne transmission theory.

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What is the Treatment for COVID-19?

Contrary to numerous claims of western and traditional treatments for COVID-19 circulating around various media platforms, there is no treatment to date for the new coronavirus strain. People infected are given supportive care for the relief of their symptoms.

Prevention remains the best defense against coronavirus. Frequent handwashing, covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough, and practicing social distancing are simple yet effective ways of protecting yourself and others against the virus.

Trials and Experiments to Beat the Pandemic.

A recent report suggests that at least 35 companies and academic bodies across the globe are racing towards developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. 

In mid-March this year, the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, USA, pioneered human trials of their potential vaccine. The 45 volunteers for the trial were to receive two injections 28 days apart to determine the vaccine’s safety.

On 02 April 2020, the Australian national science agency, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), began testing two vaccine candidates for COVID-19 on animal subjects to check for efficacy as well as to determine the best route of administration. They are expecting the trial to run for three months and remain optimistic about the results.

What are the Numbers so Far?

Data from John Hopkins University reveal that there are [covid-watch] confirmed cases worldwide, with a death toll of [covid-watch status=”deaths”], and a relatively higher recovery rate. However, a lot of countries stopped reporting on recovered data since medical teams don’t have enough time to follow up with each patient.

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The United States, with epicenter in New York, has now become a top country by the most number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Below is an overview of the COVID-19 cases so far.

Real-Time Coronavirus Pandemic Stats Video

[LIVE] Coronavirus Pandemic: Real Time Counter, World Map, News , Update , Cases , Deaths , in us

Top Countries by Most Number of Confirmed Cases

[covid-watch country=”All” sort=”confirmed”]

Coronavirus Mortality (COVID 19): Top Countries by Most Number of Deaths

[covid-watch country=”All” sort=”deaths”]

About Coronavirus (COVID-19) Data 

The data is provided from Johns Hopkins University via M Media API, NovelCOVID API and some other sources mentioned in this article. It’s updated on average every hour (from Johns Hopkins University), however, it may be out of date and not accurate because it changes rapidly. This data doesn’t include all cases, because it includes only people who tested positive. You may also check information about reported cases on the WHO website.

Where do I Find Reliable COVID-19 Information?

Head on to these resources for further authoritative information regarding COVID-19:

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused a lot of uncertainty for people worldwide. So far, we know that this is a never-before-seen strain in humans. There is no available treatment yet, but efforts are underway to develop vaccines and medications. For now, practicing proper hygiene and physical distancing is key to slowing the rapid spread of this disease.

Being well-informed is also essential during these unprecedented times. Remember to protect yourself from unnecessary confusion or anxiety caused by misinformation. Stick to factual information from trusted sources.


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Image Courtesy:

  • Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Alex Stantor
Alex Stantor

Alex Stantor is a Sorbonne University (Paris, France) graduate in Philosophy and Data Analysis. Currently, he is an Author and Researcher at Difference 101, he writes articles/blog posts on topics such as "thinking differently" and "the importance of difference". Alex is a passionate advocate of diversity in the workplace and in companies, and diversity and inclusion in corporate communications. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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