By Alex P. Vidal
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.” — Lao Tzu
AS the death toll increases in China, we continue to worry like we are falling in line in the guillotine.
Death will not yet conquer us; we are miles away from where the coronavirus had originated and necessary measures have been seriously taken by our health agencies to protect those living outside China.
So there’s no need to act like we have been condemned to die and are only waiting for our turn to cough, sneeze hard, and end up bed-ridden for a fever.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) will help us identify, recognize, and understand the virus that has caused worldwide mass hysteria and paranoia.
We need to educate ourselves first and go to the basics. The following questions have been provided by the CDCP for our guidance:
What is the 2019 Novel Coronavirus?
A: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Learn about 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
Q: What is a novel coronavirus?
A: A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), is not that same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
A diagnosis with coronavirus 229E, NL63, OC43, or HKU1 is not the same as a 2019-nCoV diagnosis. These are different viruses and patients with 2019-nCoV will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnoses.
Q: What is the source of 2019-nCoV?
A: Public health officials and partners are working hard to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Analysis of the genetic tree of this virus is ongoing to know the specific source of the virus. SARS, another coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from civet cats, while MERS, another coronavirus that emerged to infect people, came from camels. More information about the source and spread of 2019-nCoV is available on the 2019-nCoV Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.
Q: How does the virus spread?
A: This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.
Q: Is 2019-nCoV the same as the MERS-CoV or SARS virus?
A: No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. The recently emerged 2019-nCoV is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). However, genetic analyses suggest this virus emerged from a virus related to SARS. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
Q: How can I help protect myself?
A: Visit the 2019-nCoV Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like 2019-nCoV.
Q: What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has 2019-nCoV?
A: There is information for people who have had close contact with a person confirmed to have, or being evaluated for, 2019-nCoV infection available online.
Q: Does CDC recommend the use of facemask in the community to prevent 2019-nCoV?
A: No. CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks among the general public. While limited person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected, this virus is not currently spreading in the community in the United States.
Q: What are the symptoms and complications that 2019-nCoV can cause?
A: Current symptoms reported for patients with 2019-nCoV have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever1, cough, and difficulty breathing. Read about 2019-nCoV Symptoms.
Q: Should I be tested for 2019-nCoV?
A: If you develop a fever1 and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for 2019-nCoV.
Q: How do you test a person for 2019-nCoV?
A: At this time, diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV can be conducted only at CDC.
State and local health departments who have identified a person under investigation (PUI) should immediately notify CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to report the PUI and determine whether testing for 2019-nCoV at CDC is indicated. The EOC will assist local/state health departments to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately to CDC, including during after hours or on weekends/holidays.
Q: What should healthcare professionals and health departments do?
A: For recommendations and guidance on persons under investigation; infection control, including personal protective equipment guidance; home care and isolation; and case investigation, see Information for Healthcare Professionals. For information on specimen collection and shipment, see Information for Laboratories.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)