Over the past few months, a new strain of unique coronavirus – which attacks the airways and lungs – has led to a pandemic across the globe. As this strain is still so unknown and so mysterious, researchers all over the world are working hard to try and develop vaccines and treatments to help fight against the virus. Many countries are imposing lockdown scenarios, which means that people are unable to leave the house unless it is of critical necessity.
As the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing at the time of writing and publication, we have put together a fact file of all the known facts about COVID-19 which are helping us to understand and process this strange new illness. What we must state is that you should not use this fact file in place of medical help. If you are worried that you may have COVID-19 or coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate and contact your local medical services or advice line as soon as possible.
In the UK, the number to call for specific coronavirus queries and concerns is 119, while the general medical advice line is 111 for non-emergencies.
Here’s 44 facts about Coronavirus COVID-19, and what you can expect.
- COVID-19, on the whole, is an illness which should produce mild to moderate symptoms in most healthy people. Statistics show that the vast majority of people who contract the illness survive it without the need for a trip to hospital.
- However, there are people who may be at heightened risk should they contract the virus. These people include the elderly and infirm, as well as those who have existing breathing conditions.
- COVID-19 is, essentially, a branch of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It first started emerging and being brought to public attention in late 2019. It is unique in that it has never spread between humans before. However, in early 2020, it started spreading across the world.
- People are thought to be infectious after catching COVID-19 for up to 12 days, but for as little as a week. On average, health bodies seem to agree that two weeks is the general infection period.
- You may start the infectious period without showing any symptoms for a couple of days. However, this is no guarantee, and should not be treated as such.
- The symptoms of COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus can vary from person to person. One of the most common symptoms of the virus is sudden coughing in short, sharp bursts. This is because it attacks the lungs and your ability to breathe.
- However, other symptoms can include a high temperature or fever, as well as a loss of smell and taste. Some people also report sore throats and general fatigue being key indicators of COVID-19. However, these symptoms are also common to many other illnesses and bugs, meaning that it is by no means a guarantee that you have contracted the virus.
- Children can catch the virus and transmit it to others, which is why there has been a strong push to shut down schools in various territories. At present, some medical bodies suggest that children are at lower risk of developing severe symptoms, however, they are just as likely to spread it.
- Some people may carry or have had COVID-19 and may have been completely asymptomatic. This means that they may not have had any symptoms at all.
- There are several preventive measures which are being put in place to help stem the risk of spreading COVID-19. The most famous of these, by now, is hand washing. Medical bodies suggest that you should wash your hands regularly, and that you should do so for at least 20 seconds to ensure you remove bugs and viruses from your hands.
- People are also advised to observe social distancing wherever possible. This, in many cases, means that you should stand one to two metres away from people for the most protection. Droplets of sneezes and coughs can travel in the air and may be easy to inhale.
- The COVID-19 virus can spread through orifices. This means you should be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you know for certain that your hands are clean.
- COVID-19 can live on surfaces for limited periods of time. Studies show that it may live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on metal and plastic for between 2-4 days. However, during this time, the virus is thought to weaken, as all bugs and viruses do when they do not have a human or animal host.
- COVID-19 is thought to be a human disease, however, there have been a handful of rare cases where cats and dogs seem to have contracted it. There is no evidence to suggest that pets can pass on the disease to humans at present.
- There are no medications or drugs at present which will directly support the eradication of COVID-19. This is why there are ongoing research attempts to try and push out effective, safe medicines as soon as possible.
- There have been several drugs and medicines which reportedly help to ease COVID-19. However, some of these, such as hydroxychloroquine, are proven to do more harm than good.
- There is no current evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through houseflies.
- There is also no confirmed transmission of COVID-19, at present, through food packaging or food itself. However, you may wish to wash your hands after handling supermarket items as a matter of precaution.
- As a result of how the coronavirus can spread, it is recommended that you avoid shaking hands or hugging others. In some countries, such as the UK, it is recommended that you only see people from your own household, though measures are relaxing.
- Previous research suggested that COVID-19 may fail in warm weather or hot climates. However, this is not the case. Warm countries and those in tropical climates, such as Brazil, continue to see rising cases.
- You can continue to wash your clothes normally if no one in your home is confirmed to be carrying COVID-19. This means that there will be no need for you to adjust the temperature of the water you wash with.
- However, if you live with someone suspected or confirmed to be suffering from COVID-19, you must wash their clothes separately if you can, and ideally at a temperature of at least 60 degrees C.
- You do not need more than a small amount of sanitiser on your hands to protect yourself against the coronavirus. This may be as small as a coin. People should make sure to go sparing on the use of hand sanitiser as it is still in very high demand.
- It is thought that simple cleaning disinfectant will work to kill the coronavirus. Alcohol-based products, too, providing they are strong enough, may also help to protect you.
- Face masks are being adopted across the world as a way to try and adapt back to normal life without social distancing. However, social distancing is still recommended. In many cases, it is recommended that face masks be worn in medical settings. However, countries such as the UK will be bringing in requirements for masks to be worn on public transport as a mandatory measure.
- At the time of writing, there is not enough evidence to suggest that pregnant women can transmit COVID-19 to their unborn children.
- When sneezing or coughing, you should make sure to cover your mouth and nose. The best way to do this is with a disposable tissue that you can throw away instantly into a closed top rubbish bin.
- It is recommended that even if you show slight symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should make sure to stay home.
- Despite advice to the contrary, while alcohol on your hands can help to combat COVID-19, drinking alcohol has no positive impacts. You should not increase the amount of alcohol you drink for this purpose, or at all.
- In the UK, it is recommended that you call 111 if your potential symptoms do not go away within seven days.
- It is noted that those people who suffer from allergies such as pollen irritation or otherwise are not at high risk of developing COVID-19. However, those who may suffer from asthma, from medium to severe, are considered at risk.
- The World Health Organisation suggests that cold weather, as well as hot weather, cannot kill the coronavirus. Therefore, it is always worthwhile taking all the necessary precautions suggested. What’s more, the WHO suggests that taking hot baths are not preventative against the virus, either.
- A key way to understand the difference between how COVID-19 affects the body and how hay fever, for example, affects the body, is to see whether or not antihistamines have an effect. These medicines can help to relieve pollen allergies, whereas COVID-19 does not react to antihistamines.
- Scientists and researchers measure the likelihood of COVID-19 to spread based on what is called an R number. An R number will tell us how likely it is for one person to spread COVID-19 to several others. If the R number in a country is higher than 1, it starts getting more likely that the pandemic will rise strongly again.
- However, if the R number is below 1, it is more likely that the viral spread will die down. It is one of many factors people are using to measure where we all stand with the coronavirus, and whether lockdown measures are working or not.
- Recent advice from the World Health Organisation states that you should not spray or drink bleach and disinfectant as measures to protect yourself against COVID-19. These should only be used for specific surfaces. With bleach, in particular, thoroughly rinsing with water is a must.
- There is nothing to suggest that once you contract COVID-19, you have it for life. The WHO states that most people will be able to expel the virus from their bodies.
- Improper use of bleach or disinfectant may be fatal or may cause serious burns or skin irritation.
- Recent theories spreading across the web suggest that upcoming 5G technology is responsible for the rising spread of COVID-19. Multiple health bodies have come forward to confirm that viruses are physically unable to travel across airwaves or radio transmissions. Many have reported such concerns to be potentially dangerous.
- There are multiple research attempts taking place all over the world which suggest that a vaccine for COVID-19 may be forthcoming in the next 18 months. However, this will be subject to potential trials and treatments.
- One such trial, at the time of writing, is taking place in Oxford, and may hold the key to how our antibodies react to COVID-19. Antibodies, of course, are crucial to helping our bodies react to and eradicate foreign bodies and illnesses.
- The UK is continuing to adjust to lockdown at the time of writing. Many people have been asked to work from home, while others have been furloughed. This means that companies have had no option but to remove staff in line with government schemes.
- UK news sources continue to suggest that non-essential shops, pubs, and restaurants may all be open and fully functional again in the near future. However, this will all depend on how effective lockdown easing transpires in the coming weeks.
- Lockdown measures emerged in the UK to help ‘flatten the curve’, and to help relieve stress on the NHS. This means that, ultimately, healthcare teams will continue to work hard to help as many ill people as possible.
At the time of writing, COVID-19 remains a mysterious illness and one which many continue to worry about. However, it is important to continue staying positive – to wash your hands regularly, and to maintain social distancing wherever possible! Make sure to check in on family and friends from afar.