What is SARS-CoV-2? What is COVID-19? Here are the answers elaborated by the experts and published on the website of the Ministry of Health.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the name given to the new coronavirus of 2019. COVID-19 is the name given to the disease associated with the virus.
SARS-CoV-2 is a new coronavirus strain that has not previously been identified in humans.
– Viruses and disease –
Where do coronaviruses come from?
Coronaviruses are viruses that circulate among animals and some of them also infect humans.
Bats are considered natural hosts of these viruses, but many other animal species are also considered sources. For example, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is transmitted to humans by camels, and severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-1 (SARS-CoV-1) is transmitted to humans by civet.
Is the new coronavirus the same as SARS?
No, the new coronavirus (now referred to as SARS-CoV-2 and formerly named 2019-nCoV) belongs to the same virus family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) but is not the same virus.
The novel coronavirus detected in China in 2019 is closely genetically related to the SARS-CoV-1 virus that causes SARS, which emerged in late 2002 in China. SARS caused more than 8,000 cases in 33 countries in eight months. About one in ten people with SARS have died.
Is the new coronavirus comparable to the seasonal flu virus?
No, the viruses that cause both COVID-19 and seasonal flu are passed from person to person and can cause similar symptoms, but the two viruses are very different and do not behave in the same way.
ECDC (the European Center for Disease Control) estimates that between 15,000 and 75,000 people die prematurely from complications of seasonal flu each year in the EU, UK, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This is about 1 in 1,000 infected people. Although the mortality rate from seasonal flu is relatively low, many people die from flu because a large number of people contract the disease every year.
What are the symptoms of a person with COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 vary based on the severity of the disease, from the absence of symptoms (being asymptomatic) to having fever, cough, sore throat, weakness, fatigue and muscle pain. Severe cases can present with pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and other complications, all of which can be life-threatening.
Sudden loss of smell (anosmia) or decreased sense of smell (hyposmia), loss of taste (ageusia) or altered taste (dysgeusia) have been recognized as symptoms of COVID-19.
Other less specific symptoms may include headache, chills, myalgia, asthenia, vomiting and / or diarrhea.
Are some people more at risk than others?
Older people over the age of 60 and those with pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and immunosuppressed patients (by congenital or acquired disease, transplanted or treated with immunosuppressive drugs) are more likely to develop severe forms of the disease. Men in these groups also appear to be at a slightly higher risk than women.
Are children also at risk of infection and what is their potential role in transmitting the virus?
Children account for a small percentage of COVID-19 cases in the reported data. According to data from the European Surveillance System (TESSy) between 1 August 2020 and 29 November 2020, children between the ages of 1 and 11 and 12-18 years represented 5.5 and 7.4% respectively of cases. Children appear to be as likely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 as adults, with higher transmissibility in adolescents. However, children tend to have a much lower risk of developing serious symptoms or illness than adults.
To know more
In case of symptoms or doubts, who can I contact?
In case of symptoms or doubts, stay at home, do not go to the emergency room or doctor’s offices but call your family doctor, pediatrician or doctor on the phone. Or call the regional toll-free number.
Other useful numbers
– Transmission method –
How SARS-CoV-2 spreads
SARS-CoV2 is mainly transmitted via droplet and aerosol from an infected person when he sneezes, coughs, talks or breathes and is in close proximity to other people. The virus has also been isolated from the feces of infected cases, indicating that fecal-oral transmission could also be a route of infection. The droplets can be inhaled or they can rest on surfaces, with which others come into contact and are, therefore, infected by touching the nose, mouth or eyes. The virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours (copper, cardboard) up to a certain number of days (plastic and stainless steel). However, the amount of viable virus decreases over time and may not always be present in sufficient quantities to cause infection.
The incubation period for COVID-19 (i.e. the time between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms) it is currently estimated to be between one and 14 days.
The virus is known to be transmitted when infected people have symptoms such as coughing. An infected person can also pass on the virus up to two days before symptoms occur; the extent to which such asymptomatic infections contribute to transmission is currently unclear.
This is why it is essential to wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based product and to clean the surfaces frequently.
What is known about aerosol transmission?
Some medical procedures can produce droplets droplet very small (called nuclei of aerosolized or aerosolized droplets) that are able to remain suspended in the air for a long time. When such medical procedures are conducted on COVID-19 positive people in health care facilities, these aerosols can contain SARS-CoV-2. Aerosol droplets can potentially be inhaled by other people if they are not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Therefore, it is essential that all healthcare professionals performing these medical procedures take specific respiratory protection measures, including the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. In areas where such medical procedures are performed no visitors should be allowed.
When is a person contagious?
The infectious period may begin a day or two before symptoms appear, but people are likely to be more contagious during the symptomatic period, even if the symptoms are mild and very nonspecific. The infectious period is estimated to last from 8 to 10 days in moderate cases and on average up to two weeks in severe cases.
Can the new coronavirus infection be contracted from a symptom-free (asymptomatic) case?
Yes, infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms and when they are asymptomatic. That is why it is important that all positive people are identified by tests, isolated and, depending on the severity of their disease, receive medical treatment. Confirmed but asymptomatic people also need to be isolated to limit contact with others. These measures break the chain of transmission of the virus.
That is why it is always important to observe the previously described prevention measures (physical distancing, use of the mask, frequent hand washing).
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