Digital image of COVID-19 (Source: CDC)

In March of 2020, schools, public spaces and non-essential businesses across the globe shut down, bringing bustling cities to a halt. In 2019, the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a novel coronavirus began spreading across cities, countries, and eventually developed into a pandemic. COVID-19 isn’t like coronaviruses that typically circulate among humans and cause mild illnesses, such as the common cold. (1) The disease is mainly spread through respiratory droplets between individuals who are in close contact with one another. If an infected individual coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets land on people nearby and can possibly be inhaled into one’s lungs. (2) Patients diagnosed with the novel COVID-19 report a wide range of symptoms, such as fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. (1)

Individuals are most contagious when they’re symptomatic, however, they can also be contagious when they’re asymptomatic. COVID-19 can also spread by touching a surface or an object that has the virus on it and then touching one’s own mouth, nose and possibly eyes. Fever, cough and shortness of breath may appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. (2) For individuals with severe illnesses, treatment includes providing support to organ functions. If mild symptoms worsen, especially if one is experiencing shortness of breath, medical attention should be sought out immediately. (1)

At the time of the publication of this article (March 21, 2020), there is no vaccine available to the public to prevent the virus. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is working closely with scientists and manufacturers to develop one as soon as possible. Antibiotics aren’t an effective treatment due to their ability to work against bacteria. COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria, hence antibiotics won’t be effective. (1) The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed. The Center for Disease Control suggests maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other people, washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol based hand sanitizer if soap and water isn’t present, and avoid touching your face especially with unclean hands. (2)

To protect others, avoid individuals who are at a higher risk of getting infected, including older adults, people with heart diseases, diabetes and lung disease. When coughing or sneezing, cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow and throw away the used tissue immediately. Hands should be washed soon after doing so. Face masks should only be worn by individuals who are sick and those taking care of them. Surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door knobs, keyboards, and handles should be disinfected daily. (2)

A global pandemic can negatively impact the mental health of the community. Fear and anxiety of the disease can lead to the development of social stigma and discrimination towards groups of people, places and things. No group, including people of Asian descent, are at greater risk of spreading the virus than any other group. (2)

As of March 21, 2020, there are 234,073 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally and 9,840 deaths. Majority of these cases come from European region, with 104,591 confirmed cases and 4,899 deaths. (3) In attempts to control the spread of the virus, government officials are putting policies into place to encourage ‘social distancing’. Across the United States, schools, libraries,and other public spaces have been ordered to shut down. (4) Restaurants and other eateries are allowed to deliver carry-out orders. In California, Governor Gavin Newson ordered citizens to stay home and venture outside only for essential tasks. Newson ordered a shelter in place for the San Francisco area effective March 17. Businesses that don’t provide essential services are ordered to close. In Georgia, Governor Brain Kemp declared a public health emergency and set up mobile housing units for people who need to be quarantined but can’t stay at home. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker ordered hospitals to cancel all non-essential elective procedures. Baker also authorized pharmacies to make and sell their own hand sanitizers. In Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak ordered an indefinite suspension of operations in major casinos and hotels until further notice. (5)

Source: Al-Jazeera

Travel to the United States is also restricted. When returning from countries that have Level 3 notices in place (countries listed below), travelers are encouraged to self-isolate themselves for 14 days. Foriegn nationals from those countries won’t be allowed into the country. (4) 

To make reliable information readily available, the World Health ORganization has partnered with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a messaging service. The service will provide the latest news and updates. To access it, send the work “hi” to +41 798 931 892 on WhatsApp

Source: World Health Organization

Places with “Level 3” travel health notice:

  • China
  • Iran
  • United Kingdom
    • England
    • Scotland
    • Wales
    • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland
  • European schengen area:
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    •  Iceland
    •  Italy
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    •  Netherlands
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Slovakia
    •  Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Monaco
    • San Marino
    • Vatican City

Works Cited:

  1. https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/transmission.html
  3. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200320-sitrep-60-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=8894045a_2
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
  5. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/emergencies-closures-states-handling-coronavirus-200317213356419.html
Author

Urooj is an undergraduate at Hunter College. She's involved with Come Be Brainy as the Social Media Manager. She is a Group Leader with the 1000 Girls 1000 Futures Program at The New York Academy of Sciences.

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