Ok. So Coronavirus. Guaranteed to be the word of the year 2020. There’s a lot of reporting, a lot of social discourse about hashtag Rona. But what is actually true? How do I know all this information I’m receiving is correct? Let’s fact check it!
According to the World Health Organization, which collates medical research to improve primary health care and access to essential services across the world:
Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) is an infectious disease.
It is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily through droplet infection. This means the virus can be transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes in your proximity.
Most people who contract Coronavirus will experience moderate respiratory illness with the following symptoms:
• dry cough
• shortness of breath
• aches and pains
• sore throat
• diarrhoea, nausea, runny nose (in rare cases)
Coronavirus is most dangerous to people with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and heart disease, all illnesses that are common in - but NOT exclusive to - older people.
It is estimated (as reported by The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services) that 15% of people with the virus will experience severe symptoms and 5% will become critically ill.
(See this Q&A with Dr David Buchholz and Dr William Hillmann)
This is a virus, just like colds and flus, LOTS of people will contract this virus. Young and old.
Many people have Coronavirus but show minimal symptoms. This is especially true of young, healthy people.
A study in Iceland found that of those people who were proven to have Coronavirus, 50% showed no symptoms.
So even if you don’t show symptoms, you are still contagious. That means, by going out and living your best life, you are spreading the virus to other people. Many of whom may may not be in good health like you.
It might. There is evidence from China and Italy to show that some young people were perishing from Coronavirus even without underlying medical conditions. YES Coronavirus is less likely to kill an otherwise healthy person, but that does not mean it won’t.
There is no cure for Coronavirus. Like all viruses, the only human defence we have developed is vaccination. A vaccination prevents the contraction of a disease. There is no vaccination for Coronavirus at this time. People experiencing severe symptoms are treated in hospital.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services says:
Wash those hands. Wash them with soap and water, wash them ALL THE TIME. You can also use an alcohol-based hand rub (at least 60% alcohol). But soap and water is most effective.
Don’t touch your face when you are out and around other people.
Maintain a 1.5 metre distance between you and others.
Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze with the crook of your elbow.
Stay home. ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE ANY ILLNESS. ANY ILLNESS WHATSOEVER.
DO NOT douse yourself in alcohol or chlorine, that’s just dumb.
DO use appropriate solutions with these chemicals to clean surfaces with which you come into contact regularly.
Ask questions! If you’re not sure about something, ask! Ask your doctor, ask you teacher, ask someone who knows how to verify information. Information is super powerful.
If you have any more questions like this one, relating to current events or issues that interest you, email Ms Gilbert and she will answer it for you in the next instalment of Fact Check.