The Public Health Emergency That Became a Global Pandemic
December 31, 2019, a respiratory illness outbreak caused by a coronavirus
originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan and has since spread rapidly
throughout the Chinese population and across the globe, reaching the level of a
global pandemic in less than three months.
illness continues to spread, infecting tens of thousands of people with more deaths
reported every day. Multiple national and international health authorities are
providing frequent updates on the spread and impact of this illness.
addition to a human toll, the spread of this illness has put a halt to a number
of global industries from tourism/hospitality to manufacturing. In a recent
report, the Oxford Economics Company estimated that the global economy
could suffer up to $1 trillion in losses associated with this disease.
February, the World Health Organization named this illness COVID-19. The “CO” stands for the type of virus causing
the illness, a coronavirus. “VI” stands
for virus, and “D” stands for disease.
“19” refers to the year when the illness was first identified, 2019.
the same day, the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses named the
virus that causes the disease: SARS-CoV-2.
This name refers to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) the
virus causes and its coronavirus typing (CoV).
The “2” refers to this virus being related to a previously identified
SARS-CoV which led to a global pandemic in 2003.
How is this Human Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) spread
Originally, coronaviruses were thought to only spread from animals to humans. Now, there is increasing evidence that coronaviruses spread from human to human in a few key ways. These multiple transmission pathways underline the importance of environmental hygiene.
- SARS-CoV-2 is spread between people who are in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets from an infectious person who coughs or sneezes
- SARS-CoV-2 can also be spread by touching a dirty surface that is contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes
- In rare occasions, it is possible that SARS-CoV-2 could be spread through fecal contamination.
What can you do to protect yourself?
The CDC has reported multiple cases of human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States, not connected to travelers from countries experiencing outbreaks. As a result, the following precautions are recommended to stop the spread of the virus, with special focus on enhanced environmental and personal hygiene.
- Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth without washing your hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Follow CDC guidelines when considering any personal protective equipment
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick