Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE FILE
Remain calm, practice basic hygiene
A novel coronavirus — also known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — first detected in Wuhan, China has spread to almost 70 locations worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Coronaviruses are commonly spread by contact between people and animals, and the origin of this specific strain of the virus is thought to have been contracted through a human’s contact with bats. This respiratory illness, although now also spread from person-to-person contact, has not been nearly as widespread as the flu. The CDC estimates that there have been as many as 46,000 flu deaths and up to 45 million flu illnesses, which is much higher than the approximately 97,000 total cases of coronavirus and approximately 3,300 deaths. Of that total, almost 54,000 have recovered, and of those currently infected, only about 16% are in a serious or critical condition.
“For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low,” according to the CDC.
The UC Davis student who was isolated after showing flu-like symptoms — as well as their two roommates, who were quarantined — has tested negative for coronavirus and has since been removed from isolation. At this time, there are no current outbreaks in Davis.
While the coronavirus does not currently have a vaccine, this does not provide cause for people to go into a mass hysteria. The mortality rate is 3.4% as of March 3, according to the World Health Organization. Many of those infected have minor flu-like symptoms and end up recovering. Those who are more seriously affected by the illness are people who are 65 or older, or those who have prior sickness or weakened immune systems.
There is also no need to go on a mass shopping spree for food, water or masks. Masks aren’t proven to be very effective in preventing the spread of viruses, and may even increase the risk of contraction if worn improperly. N95 masks are also designed to function for a period of only eight hours of continuous or intermittent use, and are ineffective after that. Additionally, a mass influx of people purchasing masks means that there is less of a stock for surgeons and other healthcare professionals, who need them to treat patients.
The House passed an $8.3 billion bill for emergency coronavirus response on Wednesday, according to The New York Times. Of this, $7.8 billion will go toward agencies dealing with the virus, and the remaining $500 million will go toward Medicare providers to assist in at-care home of the elderly. States and cities that have spent resources and money on the coronavirus will also be receiving aid, as would the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, the National Institute of Health and the CDC.
Since this coronavirus strain was initially detected in China, and since the majority of those who were infected or have died live in China, there has been an overwhelming stigma conflating the disease with Chinese people and those of Asian descent. This unwarranted discrimination toward entire nationalities targets people who aren’t any more likely to contract the illness than others.
“Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem,” according to the CDC. “We can fight stigma and help not hurt others by providing social support. We can communicate the facts that being Chinese or Asian American does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.”
To decrease chances of contracting the virus or any other sickness, the CDC recommends washing hands frequently; avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; covering your cough or sneeze; staying home when sick; getting a flu vaccine and practicing other good health habits.
Written by: The Editorial Board