The evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 may spread more easily and cause life-threatening illness in some people. Like other coronaviruses, it can survive in the air and on surfaces long enough to infect someone. However, SARS-CoV-2 multiplies faster in the body even when you don’t have symptoms. Additionally, you can pass on the virus even if you never get symptoms at all.
Some people have mild to moderate symptoms only, while others have severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Why are these measures so important?
Following the guidelines diligently is important because SARS-CoV-2 is different than other coronaviruses including the one it’s most similar to, SARS-CoV. Ongoing medical studies show exactly why we must protect ourselves and others from getting a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Here’s how SARS-CoV-2 is different:
1.You may not have symptoms
You can carry or be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 without any symptoms at all. This means you may unknowingly pass it on to more vulnerable people who may become very ill.
2.You can still spread the virus
You can transmit or pass on the SARS-CoV-2 virus before you have any symptoms. In comparison, SARS-CoV was mainly only infectious days after symptoms began. This means that people who had the infection knew they were ill and were able to stop the spread.
3.It has a longer incubation time
SARS-CoV-2 may have a longer incubation time. This means that the time between getting infected and developing any symptoms is longer than other coronaviruses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)Trusted Source, SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. This means that someone who is carrying the virus may come into contact with many people before symptoms begin.
4.You may get sicker, faster
SARS-CoV-2 may make you more unwell, much earlier. Viral loads — how many viruses you’re carrying — were highest 10 days after symptoms began for SARS CoV-1.
In comparison, doctors in China who tested 82 people with COVID-19 found that the viral load peaked 5 to 6 days after symptoms began.
This means that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may multiply and spread in someone who has COVID-19 disease almost twice as fast as other coronavirus infections.
5.It can stay alive in the air
Lab tests show that both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV can stay alive in the air for up to 3 hours. Other hard surfaces like countertops, plastics, and stainless steel can harbor both viruses. The virus may stay on plastic for 72 hours and 48 hours on stainless steel.
SARS-CoV-2 can live for 24 hours on cardboard and 4 hours on copper — a longer time than other coronaviruses.
6.You may be very contagious
Even if you do not have symptoms, you can have the same viral load (number of viruses) in your body as a person who has severe symptoms. This means you may be just as likely to be contagious as someone who has COVID-19. In comparison, other previous coronaviruses caused lower viral loads and only after symptoms were present.
7.Your nose and mouth are more susceptible
A 2020 report noted that this coronavirus likes to move into your nose and mouth more than in the throat and other parts of the body. This means that you may be more likely to sneeze, cough, or breathe SARS-CoV-2 out into the air around you.
8.It may travel through the body faster
This coronavirus may travel through the body faster than other viruses. Data from China found that people with COVID-19 have the virus in their nose and throat only 1 day after symptoms begin.
Although there is no vaccine available to prevent infection with the new coronavirus, you can take steps to reduce your risk of infection:
1.Make sure that you understand and can help the patient follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for medication(s) and care. You should help the patient with basic needs in the home and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs.
2.Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his or her healthcare provider and tell them that the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people in the office or waiting room from getting infected.
3.Ask the healthcare provider to call the local or state health department for additional guidance. If the patient has a medical emergency and you need to call 911, notify the dispatch personnel that the patient has, or is being evaluated for COVID-19.
4.Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible. Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
5.Avoid large events and mass gatherings.
6.Avoid close contact (about 6 feet) with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
7.Keep distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community, especially if you have a higher risk of serious illness.
8.Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
9.Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the used tissue.
10.Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth if your hands aren’t clean.
11.Stay home from work, school and public areas if you’re sick, unless you’re going to get medical care. Avoid taking public transportation if you’re sick.
12.Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or animal organs.
13.Avoid contact with live animals and surfaces they may have touched if you’re visiting live markets in areas that have recently had new coronavirus cases.
14.Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
15.Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick.
16.Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.
17.Avoid sharing household items with the patient. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly.
18.Wash laundry thoroughly.
19.Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
20.Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
21.Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, using a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
1.Avoid eating or drinking in public places
Now is not the time to go out to eat. This means avoiding restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and other eateries. The virus can be transmitted through food, utensils, dishes, and cups. It may also be airborne from other people in the venue.
You can still get delivery or takeaway food. Choose foods that are thoroughly cooked and can be reheated. High heat (at least 132°F/56°C, according to one recent, not-yet-peer-reviewed lab study) helps to kill coronaviruses. This means it may be best to avoid cold foods from restaurants and all food from buffets and open salad bars.
2.Self-quarantine if sick
Call your doctor if you have any symptoms. Stay home until you recover. Avoid sitting, sleeping, or eating with your loved ones even if live in the same home.
Wear a mask and wash your hands as much as possible. If you need urgent medical care, wear a mask and let them know you may have COVID-19.
3.Avoid touching your face
SARS-CoV-2 can live on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours. You can get the virus on your hands if you touch a surface like a doorknob, gas pump handle, or your cell phone.
Avoid touching any part of your face or head including your mouth, nose, and eyes. Also avoid biting your fingernails. This can give SARS-CoV-2 a chance to go from your hands into your body.
4.Stop shaking hands and hugging people — for now
Similarly, avoid touching other people. Skin to skin contact can pass SARS-CoV-2 from one person to another.
Taking these prevention strategies seriously is extremely important to stop the spread of this virus. Practicing good hygiene, following these guidelines, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same will go a long way in preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.