The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which was first detected in Wuhan City, China, late last year and has since spread to nearly 60 other countries, has met two of the criteria for a pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus has caused illness — including illness that resulted in death — and it spreads between people.
As of 4 p.m. Feb. 28, there were 84,124 confirmed cases worldwide, with 62 in the United States. The virus has claimed 2,867 lives, none in the United States.
The immediate health risk from the coronavirus to the general public is low, according to the CDC. However, the agency predicts that person-to-person transmission of the virus is likely to occur in the days and weeks to come. Given that likelihood, people are encouraged to take precautions.
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of essential tips to prevent viral infections. We reviewed websites such as webmd.com and cdc.com to gather information on the most effective behaviors to prevent infections.
Like any virus, the coronavirus needs a living cell, like that of a human, in order to survive and multiply. A virus can remain on surfaces — like an elevator button or the pole of a subway car. How long a virus remains viable, however, depends on the type of virus and surface as well as the environment (temperature and humidity for example). From cold viruses to stomach bugs, viruses can remain on surfaces from a few minutes to a few weeks. Studies on other coronaviruses in the past (not the COVID-19) suggest they can remain on surfaces for two days to over a week, though not necessarily active.
As with any virus such as influenza, people should take similar precautions to avoid getting sick, such as frequent washing of hands, cleaning surfaces that you touch often, avoiding crowded places, and getting plenty of sleep. This is the damage you do to your body when you don’t get enough sleep.
While the novel coronavirus outbreak is among the most serious international public health emergencies in recent memory, it is unlikely to come close to the devastation wrought by some of history’s worst outbreaks. Here are the worst outbreaks of all time.