THE international medical community is still examining, observing, and learning about this novelCorona virus, SARS-Cov-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19. Since it is new, the virus, which belongs to the family of Corona viruses, is still posing a great challenge to the scientific world and all peoples around the globe.
The first case
Since the very first case, a 55-year-old man infected in Wuhan (the city where a biolab is working on various viruses), Hubei, China, on November 17, 2019, as reported by South China Morning Post, the actual confirmed case of the nCorona infection was of an elderly man with Alzheimer’s who was homebound and whose symptoms started December 1, 2019. He had not been to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, according to the January 2020 issue of The Lancet. China first reported the Wuhan nCorona outbreak on December 30, 2019. The duplicity and delay have killed thousands of lives around the globe, courtesy of socialism. This would not have happened in a free and democratic society.
Wuhan COVID-19 deaths up by 50%
As of April 17, Chinese officials have reported a 50% increase in the Wuhan city death toll from COVID-19, raising it to 3,869, from 2,579, an increase of 1,290 due to an overwhelmed system which delayed reporting, including those who died at home that were previously unreported. Current cases in the U.S. is greater than 810,000, with more 45,000 deaths; China is around 83,000, with about 4,700 deaths; Philippines, about 6,700, and around 450 deaths. The global total is higher than 2.6 million, with about 190,000 deaths, in 210 countries.
First case by country
China reported its first case on January 2, 2020; Thailand, January 13; Japan, January 16; South Korea and the USA, January 20; Taiwan, January 21; Hong Kong, Macau, January 22; Singapore, Vietnam, January 23; France, Nepal, January 24; Australia, Canada, Malaysia, January 25; Cambodia, Germany, Sri Lanka, January 27; Finland, United Arab Emirates, January 29; India, Italy, Philippines, January 30; Russia, Spain, Sweden, United kingdom, January 31.
Those persons exposed to the SARS-CoV2 virus and are carriers are most infectious a day or two before symptoms appear. This makes the virus quite treacherous, and because of its virulence – it is rapidly transmitted exponentially to people within 6 feet of each other. The virus could remain floating in the air for up to 7.5 hours, and travel more than 12 feet, compared to about 3 hours (6 feet) in the previous SARS-CoV1 of 2002, which also started in China (Guangdong province). This is where staying home, social distancing, wearing a cap, well-fitted mask (N-95 of possible, with an added layer of coffee filter or cloth or paper), goggles over glasses, and gloves are vital. It is best to avoid touching public doorknobs, doors, handrails, and other surfaces in public with bare hands. Gloves, once used, must be considered contaminated and cannot be used to touch the face either. Gloves must be washed with soap and water also, just like hands.
SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces
Studies have shown that this virus (which is not a living microbe but a protein molecule covered by a protective layer of fat like other viruses) stays active on various surfaces for a different length of time. On metals, glass, ceramics, paper, wood – active up to 5 days; on plastic, stainless steel – up to 3 days; on cardboard (shipping boxes) – up to 24 hours; on aluminum – up to 8 hours; and on copper – up to 4 hours.
Virus spread by shoes
Swab testing of floors shows that the shoes of hospital personnel and others spread the contamination with SARS-CoV2 virus on the floor. The tests revealed 100% positivity on the pharmacy floor where there are no COVID-19 patients, 35% in ICU, 12.5% in the general wards, 45% in COVID-19 patient’s room, and 36% near air outlets. One of the 8 tests was positive in the doctors’ clinic. This virus can spread 13 feet through the air and carried on shoes, per CDC report, as confirmed by the tests above.
Mail and packages
It is best not to handle mail or packages with bare hands. We do not know if the mail carrier or handlers are carriers of the virus, so it is safer to leave those items in your garage for at least 24 hours. After handling them, wash hands with warm water and foamy soap, which washes away the protective fatty layer around the protein molecule and destroys the virus. This virus is also deactivated by a temperature of 133F or 56.1C.
Hospitals, clinics, and some people use UV-C light to destroy the virus. After using disinfectants, wash hands thoroughly, especially for chlorine-based cleaners. The old faithful hydrogen peroxide also destroys the SARS-CoV2 virus. And so with 75% to 91% alcohol, Lysol, and Clorox. Again: foamy soap suds and water demolishes the virus!
C-19 worse than the flu
This season, more than 39 million Americans will be infected with the flu, compared to about 810,000 COVID-19 patients so far, with nearly 45,000 deaths in the U.S. The estimated deaths from flu this year will be around 59,000 in the United States. The death rate for flu is 0.1%, while for COVID-19 it is 2-3%. Those with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, have about 6% higher risk. COVID-19 is evidently deadlier.
Recovered, re-tested positive
On April 17, 2020, 163 fully recovered COVID-19 patients in South Korea have tested positive again. After flattening the curve and feeling some relief, this country is now concerned about the relapse, which doubled from 74 on April 9, following recovery of 7,829 patients, 2% of whom are now back to isolation. These patients were supposed to have antibodies in them, so re-infection from a new carrier is ruled most improbable. The WHO is investigating. In the meantime, recovered patients are advised to stay home for an additional 2 weeks for extended monitoring.
In view of the possibility of resurgence (or re-infection?), even among those who have recovered, it appears we have to continue our proactive and preemptive strategy to avoid COVID-19, even after this pandemic has subsided for at least for a couple of months thereafter. This goes with frequent handwashing, personal hygiene, a bit of social distancing, and even a bit of paranoia (medical vigilance), which are also good to avoid other infections.
Deaths among our healthcare heroes
Many physicians, nurses, allied healthcare personnel and other front-liners in this war against COVID-19, with courage and compassion, braved the battlefield, many unprotected because of shortage in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) a couple of weeks ago, and sacrificed their (and their family’s) safety and lives to save the lives of others.
In Italy, as of the end of March, there were 61 physicians and countless nurses and other caretakers who died of COVID-19 and around 17,000 healthcare providers who had tested positive. Some of them were retired physicians who volunteered. China has 198 physician-deaths (ages between 20 and 90), and in the Philippines almost 20 physicians. In the U.S., more than 9,200 health workers have tested positive, with 27 deaths, but officials say the accurate figures could be higher. We do not have the data for the other 207 countries. When the global statistics are finally available, it is certain that the death toll among these selfless and dedicated super-humans on the front line of this war would be in the thousands. They and their colleagues who survived and are today in harm’s way, honorably serving, are all our unsung heroes, whose selfless sacrifices will forever inspire the world and be admired with eternal gratitude.
* * *
Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Public Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com; Email: email@example.com.