COVID-19 is the name given to a new coronavirus disease that began in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Though the illness is similar to a cold for most people, in some cases it can cause death. The disease has had a terrible impact in China and has quickly spread to many other countries.
“COVI” stands for “coronavirus”, “D” is for “disease”, and the “19” represents the year the virus appeared.
Since COVID-19 first appeared, the disease has spread all through China and to many other countries around the world.
Coronaviruses are viruses that have a spiky ring around them like a crown when viewed with a powerful microscope. Though there are many coronaviruses which affect animals, before COVID-19, only six coronaviruses were known to affect humans. Four of these cause common colds. The other two cause more serious lung illnesses, and can be deadly.
COVID-19 has surprised scientists in several ways. At first it was thought that the disease couldn’t spread easily between humans. That’s not true. But it seems that people can have the disease for a while without showing any signs that they have it.
Though many people have died from the disease, most people who get it recover. For about 80% of the people who get the disease, the effects are mild – like a common cold. The virus seems to be much more serious for patients who are older or already sick. Children seem to be less affected than others.
Governments around the world are working hard to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
So far there is no cure for COVID-19, but many of the treatments that are used for other illnesses like the flu are also helpful in dealing with the effects of the coronavirus infection. Scientists are trying to find medicines which can treat the disease.
Scientists around the world are also working hard to develop a vaccine which could prevent the disease. That process needs to be handled very carefully, so it could be some time before a vaccine is actually ready to use in humans.
This comic does a nice job of discussing the coronavirus in a clear way.
Things You Can Do
To keep diseases like COVID-19 and the flu from spreading:
• Stay home if you’re sick
• Wear a mask when you go out
• Stay a safe distance away from others – about 6 feet (2 meters)
• Cough into your elbow
• Wash your hands well, and do it often.
• Once your hands are clean, try not to touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.
Doctors suggest washing for at least 20 seconds, which is about as long as it takes to sing the song “Happy Birthday” twice.