Corona virus what we know and what we don’t know: more than 80,000 people are infected, the cities of Italy and China are cordoned off – and there are more and more cases in Germany. How dangerous is the new corona virus?
Important information: this text is a quick translation of my German text and has no commercial attention. I did not pay attention to the spelling but more to the content of the Text. Certain thing relates to Germany and must be looked for in other countries.
What is the new corona virus?
On New Year’s Eve, Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of an accumulation of pneumonia, the cause of which is unclear. The people infected came from Wuhan, a metropolis of around 11 million people.
About a week later, the cause was identified: a new type of corona virus. It is called SARS-CoV-2. Initially the virus only spread to China, but WHO has now declared an international health emergency – as there are more and more cases around the world. In Italy, some cities are completely isolated and the number of infected people is also increasing in Germany.
Numerous preliminary assessments
Information on the new corona virus is currently evolving at a rapid rate, so current assessments should always be considered preliminary. Questions that are currently being studied under high pressure: how well can the virus infect people, what symptoms do infected people develop (and how quickly), how much is the pathogen transmitted from person to person – and in how dangerous is the new virus compared to previous epidemics like SARS or MERS?
How is the new corona virus transmitted?
Corona viruses are often zoonotic. This means: they circulate in animals, then mutate so that they can pass from animals to humans.
Transmission from animals to humans also seems very likely with SARS-CoV-2. The majority of cases seen so far can be attributed to a market in the central city of Wuhan, China, where live and dead animals have been sold. The exact origin of the virus, however, is contrary to what is often claimed, still unknown.
“There is nothing sure,” says Professor Christian Drosten, director of the Institute of Virology of Charity in Berlin. “What is certain is that the ecological reservoir of all these corona viruses is certain species of bats, the horseshoe bat. However, this virus, like other viruses of this type, is likely to have intermediate hosts. What intermediate host the virus has spread to humans is not yet known.
The virus can also migrate from person to person
The exact way of infecting other people is still under study. Coronaviruses are likely to be spread mainly through a droplet and contact infection – that is, through a direct cough or physical contact with a sick person. Pure air transmission has not been proven so far.
For a long time, it has been assumed that the corona virus receptor is found mainly in the deep respiratory tract – this is the case with SARS. To be infected (and transmit the virus), you would have to inhale it into the lungs. “In other words, it is far from one lung to another,” explains Christian Drosten. “But this virus apparently succeeds in actively multiplying the throat, which is a big difference for SARS.” Conclusion: the infection is much faster.
Easier to transfer than expected
“It has become clear in recent days that the virus is transmitted more easily than was thought at the start of the epidemic. This is illustrated by the case numbers, but also by scientific publications on the calculation of the basic reproduction rate. It is about as high as that of SARS corona virus from 2003, “said Professor Lars Schaade, vice-president and head of the Center for Biological Risks and Special Pathogens at the Robert Koch Institute.
Based on this basic R0 reproduction rate, researchers are currently trying to determine how the epidemic might develop. It shows the average number of people infected by an infected person. However, the estimates differ widely here – from 1.5 to slightly above 5. Concrete forecasts are therefore difficult.
Contagious without symptoms?
It has sometimes been reported that even infected people who had no symptoms had transmitted the virus. This is an important factor in assessing the ease with which a disease can spread. Viruses become particularly dangerous if they migrate very quickly from one person to another.
One such case also appears to be the Chinese woman who infected her German colleague in Bavaria. For example, the famous New England Journal of Medicine claimed that he only developed symptoms on his flight back to China. However, this information now turns out to be inaccurate: the Chinese woman would have already felt tired during her stay in Germany, would have suffered from muscle pain and would have taken acetaminophen for her fever.
However, this does not exclude that in other cases, there was no transmission during the incubation period. An incubation period of up to 14 days is currently assumed.
Transmission via food and toys?
There are currently no cases in which it has been proven that people have been infected with the new corona virus in any other way – for example by eating contaminated food or importing toys. Experts believe that infection by this route is unlikely.
Transmission to surfaces that were previously contaminated with viruses is possible due to smear infections. However, since coronaviruses do not survive long in the environment, infection in this way would be likely – if not nonexistent – soon after contamination.
How dangerous is the corona virus?
The coronavirus apparently causes symptoms of very different degrees: from a fairly harmless cold to the typical signs of viral pneumonia – fever with cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, muscle pain and fatigue. Headaches or sputum are less common. So far, the virus has only appeared as a cold, but we have seen many serious illnesses in China.
“We know that children are hardly affected. “Pregnant women are probably not particularly affected,” says Professor Christian Drosten. “We also know that the special risk group is older patients – and the focus is on the male.” And: A large part of the deceased already had a weakened immune system or was very old.
The number of cases is steadily increasing
The numbers skyrocketed in the short term, as people with symptoms of illness who have not yet been tested have also been registered in China. The number of undetected infections could still be significantly higher.
Mortality rate appears to be lower
If we compare the mortality rate (i.e. the number of infected people who die from the disease) of the new coronavirus with that of previous corona epidemics, it currently seems to be lower – case-based confirmed, it would be around 2%. Since the number of undetected infections is likely to be much higher, the mortality rate is likely to be even lower. There is no final data yet. By way of comparison: around 10 to 11% of patients have died from SARS infection.
Who is particularly at risk
Even if these figures should be considered with caution: An initial assessment by Chinese health authorities suggests that the risk of dying from coronavirus differs considerably – depending on age, sex and previous illnesses. For the analysis, data from 44,000 people detected infected with corona from China were evaluated.
The conclusion: the risk for young people is very low (0.2%). From the age of 50, the risk of dying from the infection increases significantly – to around 1.3%. People between 80 and 14.8% of those infected are most at risk. The extent to which these figures can be transferred to Europe is questionable. Nevertheless, they give a first picture of the distribution of risk.
Is there already therapy?
No. There are still no suitable means to fight against corona viruses. A study that started shortly after the epidemic is now testing a combination of agents that have shown potential benefits for the SARS virus. There are no results yet.
A vaccine is also being studied. Scientists don’t have to start all over again: the SARS virus has already seen its first developments. Only the vaccines have not stopped developing – when the epidemic of the disease was stopped, the research ended.
A vaccine will be tested in a clinical trial in China in late April. However, experts estimate that it will probably take a year before a vaccine against the new virus is developed and tested.
What helps? The classics
What is recommended is what is recommended for similar symptoms: bed rest and sufficient fluids.
How do you prevent the spread of the virus?
The most drastic measure: enclosing entire cities. Not only in China – in Italy too, some villages are now isolated, public institutions are closed. The aim is to prevent the spread of the virus as far as possible beyond the local focus of infection.
This is done in Europe:
The virus had originally spread unnoticed in Italy. To avoid this, the Robert Koch Institute is currently conducting random tests in doctors’ offices – in addition to targeted tests for suspicious cases, people with respiratory illnesses are now undergoing random tests for the new corona virus. Otherwise, the spread of seasonal flu is documented.
The current goal is to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible and break the chain of infection. An attempt is made to identify and isolate all contacts of the infected. “This can at least slow the spread, which opens up time for further countermeasures,” said Timo Ulrichs, professor of global health at the Acre University of the Humanities in Berlin. “At best, the local epidemic can be contained and wiped out this way. With only one or fewer regions affected, something like this is possible if there are several epidemics at the same time, unfortunately more.
Because the spread becomes difficult to contain when the routes of infection are no longer manageable. As in Italy. If this is also the case for us, the Robert Koch Institute recommends that protective measures be focused in particular on people at high risk – these are mainly the elderly and people who have already suffered from illnesses.
Prevent uncontrolled global spread
In addition, since the start of the Corona epidemic, measures have been taken to curb global expansion:
For example, some airlines have suspended flights to and from China at this time. Lufthansa and British Airways, for example, no longer fly to mainland China.
Another attempt is entry control at airports. Using thermal imaging cameras, incoming travelers are screened to determine if they may have a fever. However, a 2015 study concluded that this measure was not very effective.
In Singapore in 2009, of 116 swine fever infections, only 15 were discovered at the airport. In Japan, only 10 of the 151 travelers suffering from swine fever were excluded. The problem is that travelers can already be infected and carry the virus without developing symptoms such as fever.
This makes more sense: leaving the projections, that is to say the controls at the exit of the country. WHO recommends such exit checks for all countries where the virus has declared itself. WHO has declared an international health emergency for the coronavirus. This means that member countries must coordinate their measures against the spread of the virus among themselves.
What can I do personally?
Because the flu season is just beginning at the same time, symptoms similar to those caused by the corona virus can occur: sudden fever, fatigue, dry cough, shortness of breath. There is therefore a risk that patients with “ordinary” influenza go to an isolated hospital by mistake as they are confused with patients with coronavirus. In Germany there were already a number of suspected cases of coronavirus, which ultimately turned out to be influenza viruses.
To avoid unnecessary suspicious cases or even double infection, the WHO and the Robert Koch Institute recommend vaccinations against influenza, whooping cough and pneumococci. This applies especially to people from risk groups, namely: people over 60, pregnant women from the second trimester, people with chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease or diabetes), residents of retirement and nursing homes, and those with solid jobs increased risk of infection – such as medical staff.
People in these high-risk groups are at significantly higher risk that the flu will be severe or even fatal, as their immune system may be more susceptible to infections. Important: People who do not belong to this risk group – such as healthy children – experts advise against vaccination!
It is imperative to respect the rules of hygiene
Corona viruses can be transmitted by droplet infection by sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose. Viruses can also penetrate surfaces, enter mucous membranes through a hand infection smear – and infect others.
t is therefore important:
wash your hands regularly: at least 20 seconds with soap up to your wrist
sneezing or coughing in the crook of the arm, not in the hand
do not shake hands, instead give your elbows
Hold your face as little as possible, do not touch your mucous membranes on your face (mouth, eyes, nose)
Do not press the elevator buttons with your finger, rather with your ankle
ventilate well avoid crowded rooms and crowds
respiratory masks? In one case:
To avoid infecting others – if you already have symptoms. Healthy people, on the other hand, do not have good protection against most respiratory masks. Because they become wet due to the breathing of condensed air, the protective barrier is removed after only 20 minutes. FFP3 masks offer fairly good protection against this. The problem: respirators can suggest a false sense of security – so the most important protective measures such as good hand washing are overlooked.
The photo is described in German so in need do research by yourself
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you feel like you have symptoms, you should first call your family doctor or a rescue center! This way you avoid infecting other people. The doctor then discusses what to do – if and when a visit to the practice makes sense or if the doctor can go home.
For people who have been in contact with people who have been diagnosed with the virus, the following rules apply: if they have symptoms ranging from a mild cold to pneumonia, they should stay at home, avoid all direct contact with other people and contact the responsible health service by phone (You can find the responsible health office for you here). This also applies to travelers who have been in a risk area in the past 14 days and who are now experiencing symptoms. The risk areas identified by the Robert Koch Institute are:
In China: Hubei province (including the city of Wuhan) and the cities of Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Taizhou in the province of Zhejiang
In Iran: Qom province
In Italy: the province of Lodi in Lombardy and the city of Vo in the province of Padua in Veneto
In South Korea: Gyeongsangbuk-do Province (North Gyeongsang)
The costs of the coronavirus screening test are borne by the offices and the health insurance funds in case of suspected cases. ( please see because all countries are different , thank you for you understanding.
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