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What we know about the Coronavirus and what we don’t

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PARIS, FRANCE —
Researchers want to know everything about the latest coronavirus, from its mortality rate to its origins, incubation period and much more, and they still have blanks to fill in.

Mortality rate?

COVID-19, as the disease is known, is more lethal than the average seasonal flu, but less so than previous epidemics stemming from coronaviruses. We do not yet know its precise mortality rate.

World Health Organization data released Saturday identified 2,348 deaths from 76,392 confirmed cases in China, for a rough rate of 3.07 percent.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) published this week a study of 72,314 confirmed, clinically diagnosed or suspected cases as of Feb. 11.

According to the most extensive study done so far, the novel coronavirus was benign in 80.9 per cent of the cases, “serious” in 13.8 per cent and “critical” in 4.7 per cent.

The remaining 0.6 per cent was not specified.

According to the China CDC study, the mortality rate increased substantially with age, and those over 80 were most at risk with a rate of 14.8 per cent.

Patients who already suffered from cardiovascular diseases were also particularly at risk, ahead of diabetics and those who suffered from chronic respiratory diseases or hypertension.

Global estimates of the mortality rate are risky however because we do not know how many people have actually been infected.

Other strains of coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, have established mortality rates of 9.5 per cent and 34.5 per cent, respectively.

How infectious is it?

Specialists generally agree that each person who falls ill with coronavirus will infect between two and three others on average.

That is a higher rate than a typical winter flu (1.3), lower than an infectious disease such as measles (more than 12), and comparable to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS (3) — the last major virus that broke out in China, in 2002-03.

Some experts warn however that we might be seriously underestimating the number of cases.

A study published Friday by the Imperial College Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis said: “We estimated that about two thirds of COVID-19 cases exported from mainland China have remained undetected worldwide, potentially resulting in multiple chains of as yet undetected human-to-human transmission outside mainland China.”

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced concern on Friday about “the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case.”

Asymptomatic cases, where people show no symptoms, are another cause for concern.

The incubation period is estimated to be two to 10 days, and has led to experts to decide on a observation period of 14 days for suspected cases or for people who have been repatriated from areas such as China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

How is it transmitted?

The virus is mainly transmitted by respiratory means and physical contact. Drops of saliva expelled when an infected person coughs is a common example, and researchers believe that generally occurs over a distance of around one metre at most.

Health advisories emphasize measures such as washing your hands often, coughing or sneezing into the crook of your elbow or a paper handkerchief, and wearing a mask if you know you have been infected.

A secondary means of transmission might be diarrhoea.

What are the symptoms and treatments?

WHO says: “Signs and symptoms include respiratory symptoms and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and sometimes death.”

There are no vaccines or medications at present to fight COVID-19 so health officials can only treat the symptoms.

Some patients are given anti-viral medications, but their effectiveness has not been established so far.

Where did it come from?

The novel coronavirus is belived to have come from bats, but researchers think it might have spread to humans via another mammal species.

Chinese researchers suspect that might be the pangolin, a widely trafficked and endangered mammal.

The global scientific community deems that hypothesis plausible, but still awaits confirmation.

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Coronavirus: Could you have already had the virus? 5 questions answered – WPXI Pittsburgh

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The list of symptoms that have been associated with the virus is not a small one. According to the CDC, symptoms such as a dry cough, fatigue, low-grade fever, body aches, nasal congestion and sore throat are the most common with COVID-19. In addition, symptoms such as the loss of the senses of taste and smell, diarrhea and the appearance of conjunctivitis – commonly known as “pink eye” – have also been seen.

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Here's what you should know about wearing cloth face masks – CollingwoodToday

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Medical officials are still stopping short of recommending the general public wear homemade masks, but they are suggesting a cloth mask could help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said today a homemade cloth mask could help someone who doesn’t know they have the virus keep from spreading it to others.

“People should be aware they’re not of proven value,” said Gardner. “If there is any value in them it’s more from the point of view of avoiding infecting others.”

A cloth mask could keep droplets from your nose and mouth from entering someone else’s airway or landing on and contaminating a surface.

“They have not been shown to prevent respiratory viruses from entering your airway,” said Gardner.

But it shouldn’t replace any of the other preventative measures being recommended by public health organizations in the province and country.

“What’s really important is that people do their physical distancing and their handwashing,” said Gardner.

He also recommends people stay home, think twice about whether or not they need to go out, and if they do, to focus on quick trips for essential items while still maintaining a two-metre separation with any other people.

“The more we do, the better we do this, the less that surge will be,” said Gardner. “April is a very key month for us in this outbreak. This month we’re going to see the extent to which the surge occurs. If we were very successful it will be a limited surge. If we were less successful it will be a bigger surge more likely to overwhelm our healthcare system.”

There are now 98 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region, more than 10 of those at Bradford Valley, a long-term care facility.

Gardner stressed members of the general public should not be wearing medical-grade masks.

“All of those we really need to retain for healthcare workers because of a limited supply,” he said.

Additionally, there are specific fits and protocols that make surgical masks and N95 masks effective PPE. Without following those specifications, a medical-grade mask will not offer effective protection.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 including coughing and sneezing, stay home, indoors, for at least 14 days.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical officer of health, said today people can use homemade cloth masks to prevent spreading the virus to others. She said there is increasing evidence people can transmit the virus before knowing they are sick, and keeping their mouth and nose covered while in public – in addition to frequent handwashing and physical distancing – could help reduce spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted some tips on its website on using cloth face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC says to use a mask that fits snugly, is secured with ties or ear loops, includes multiple layers of fabric, and can be laundered and machine dried without changing shape.

If you are using a cloth mask, put it on before you go out in public, and then don’t touch it or your face again. Once at home, remove the mask without touching your face, and put it in the laundry. Wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect surfaces you touched on the way in.

The CDC also states a cloth face mask is an additional, voluntary public health measure and should only be used with proper handwashing and physical distancing practices.

You can find sewing and no-sew instructions for cloth face masks on the CDC website.

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Homemade face masks can protect others, but not you: health officials – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
The increase in demand for personal protective equipment has led to an increase in demand for homemade face masks.

Monday both the Federal and Provincial Government said there’s a benefit to wearing homemade masks when in public.

Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer for Canada, said the Special Advisory Committee for COVID-19 concluded wearing a non-surgical mask can help protect those around you, but it doesn’t protect the person wearing it,

“Wearing a non-medical mask in the community does not mean you can back off of the public health measures that we know work to protect you,” said Tam.

She said we can’t “relax” any of our physical distancing efforts, but added people who want to wear masks as an extra precaution can make them out of household items.

”Simple things, not complicated,” said Tam. “If you can get a cotton material like a t-shirt, you cut up, fold it, (and) put elastic bands around it. Those are the kind of facial coverings we’re talking about.”

Some Manitobans have been pulling out the needle and thread to craft homemade face masks.

Grace Webb, the creator of the Facebook page Face Masks for Manitoba, said she got the idea to sew masks and donate them after reading a U.S. article.

She said the idea snowballed and she started the Facebook group so other mask makers could join her.

“From there it became apparent that people wanted to do this but didn’t have material,” said Webb. “So I thought, why don’t we (build) a kit we can send to people with everything they need to make mask.”

Webb said she’s donating the masks to care homes and people in the community.

Each mask comes with instructions on how to clean them properly, along with a reminder to practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer for Manitoba said wearing a non-surgical mask is like coughing into your sleeve.

He said he doesn’t want this information about homemade masks to distract from the most important message.

“If you were staying home before, stay home now,” said Roussin. “Don’t go out now because somebody has said we can use cloth or non medical masks.”

Webb said she’ll continue to sew homemade masks as long as there’s a need.

“I hope it gives them some comfort and a little bit more security,” Said Webb. “I would love to say that we did something to help slow the spread.”

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