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November 26th, 2020

3 27 20 coronavirus in kansas graphicELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Medical experts are continuing to monitor the coronavirus situation and update the public on developments. Along with questions on curing the virus, a lot of research is also continuing as far as what the virus actually is. 

“COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2),” the CDC information noted. “The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir. Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Some international destinations now have ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as do some parts of the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed. Learn more about the spread of this newly emerged coronavirus.”

The COVID-19 situation was declared a pandemic March 11 by the World Health Organization 

“This is the first pandemic known to be caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus. In the past century, there have been four pandemics caused by the emergence of novel influenza viruses,” the CDC information noted. “As a result, most research and guidance around pandemics is specific to influenza, but the same premises can be applied to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemics of respiratory disease follow a certain progression outlined in a Pandemic Intervals Framework. Pandemics begin with an investigation phase, followed by recognition, initiation, and acceleration phases. The peak of illnesses occurs at the end of the acceleration phase, which is followed by a deceleration phase, during which there is a decrease in illnesses. Different countries can be in different phases of the pandemic at any point in time and different parts of the same country can also be in different phases of a pandemic. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.”

As of March 26, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) there are 168 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Kansas, which has led to all K-12 school buildings being closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year and leading teachers to move their curriculum online, and some Kansas counties have also  implemented stay-at-home orders, most recently Sedgwick County and Sumner County, among many other restrictions.

And according to information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Medical News Today, an important thing to note is while there are a few similarities, the COVID-19 virus is not the same as the flu.

“COVID-19 and flu share some similar symptoms. The symptoms of flu tend to occur faster and can have greater variation. But COVID-19 is more likely to lead to severe illness or death. Both viruses spread via person to person contact. Flu spreads faster and is more likely to affect children,” Medical News Today noted. “As the flu has been around longer, there are several effective antiviral treatments and vaccines available. Researchers and scientists are developing these for COVID-19, but treatments and vaccines are not likely to be available soon. Viral infections cause both COVID-19 and the flu. But COVID-19 is due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and flu is from influenza A and B viruses.”

“While both the flu and COVID-19 may be transmitted in similar ways, there is also a difference: COVID-19 might be spread through the airborne route, meaning that tiny droplets remaining in the air could cause disease in others even after the ill person is no longer near,” Johns Hopkins Medical Center added.

Medical News Today added people must take some extra precautionary hygiene measures to protect themselves. 

“The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to practice social distancing, which means avoiding any non-essential social contact or travel. It is essential to maintain good personal and domestic hygiene by washing the hands regularly and keeping surfaces and utensils clean,” Medical News Today noted. 

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