Friday, February 7th 2020

How to Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus – An In-Depth Guide On What We Know

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Wuhan coronavirus

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus

*To see a real-time map of the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, click here.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Introduction:

As the new coronavirus reaches a record-high death toll of over 3,000 deaths, and the overall coronavirus cases approach 100,000 documented cases, people have reached a near panic in China and abroad. This virus, which originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan, has captivated mankind’s fears—as well as its natural tendencies toward xenophobia.

Airports have been restricting air travel and posted thermometers to register people’s temperatures. If you have a fever, you will likely be pulled aside and quarantined until you can be proven to be free of the Wuhan coronavirus.

It seems that the Wuhan coronavirus spreads through water droplets that are released when a person coughs, or they touch a surface with traces of the mucous on their hands. This surface could be a countertop, but it could just as easily be anything that exchanges hands—like money.

*For example, China has begun to disinfect its banknotes in hopes of deterring the spread of the virus.

It has been shown that the coronavirus loses potency in high heat. That means that it survives in an oxygen environment longer in cold weather, which makes it deadlier. However, that doesn’t mean that it will disappear this summer. Cases may decrease in the northern hemisphere, increase in the southern hemisphere, and then return with newfound potency in the fall. This was the case with the 1918 flu pandemic.

It is wise to note that the coronavirus outbreak has—as of March 11th when this article was last updated—the coronavirus has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. This is a very specific type of classification.

In addition, there is some speculation as to whether or not the coronavirus has mutated into two different distinct forms of the virus. For more information, click here.

Finally, there is some speculation (from a very small sample size) as to whether or not 20% to 30% of those who recover from coronavirus have any lasting respiratory effects. For more information, click here.

How to protect yourself from the Wuhan Coronavirus

Statistics of the age in relation to the infection and death of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China (not worldwide statistics).

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Just the Facts:

The World Health Organization just released an article after sending 25 experts to China. After 9 days, these are the facts that they came back with:

  • Between 78% – 85% of infections were caused by contact with the family and other close human-to-human contacts. This was spread through mucousy water droplets. Even most of the hospital workers that caught the Wuhan virus were infected in their homes before the safeguards were raised.

  • 15% of patients need to breath concentrated oxygen for more than just a few days

  • 5% needed artificial respiration

  • If you’re mildly ill, it takes 2 weeks to recover

  • If you are one of the 20% that becomes severely ill, it takes 3 to 6 weeks to recover

  • Hospitals in the Wuhan region were overburdened with cases. Their resources could not handle the outbreak. 40,000 employees had to be sent to the province. Two massive makeshift hospitals had to be created on the fly, and ten exhibition halls and gyms were converted into temporary hospitals for less severe cases.

  • China is making 1.6 million coronavirus test kits per week. The results are shown that same day.

  • Most symptoms show up after a few days. Cases where someone contracted the disease and showed absolutely no symptoms are extremely rare. These symptoms are:

    • Fever – 88%
    • Exhaustion – 38%
    • Coughing – 33%
    • Shortness of Breath – 18%
    • Sore Throat – 14%
    • Headaches – 14%
    • Muscle Aches – 14%
    • Chills – 11%
    • Nausea and Vomiting – 5%
    • Stuffy Nose – 5%
    • Diarrhea – 4%
    • Runny Nose – Practically 0%
  • Of the 44,672 people that were infected, 3.4% died. The major factors were age, preexisting conditions, and healthcare response. (Gender was also a factor, where 2.8% of infected women died, and 4.7% of infected men died).

  • 20% of infected people needed hospital beds. (China had the facilities to treat .4% of the population. Most developed countries can treat between .1% and 1.3%).

  • For those with cardiovascular disease, the death rate was 13.2%

  • For those with diabetes, the death rate was 9.2%

  • For those with high blood pressure, the death rate was 8.4%

  • For those with chronic respiratory diseases, the death rate was 8%

  • For those with cancer, the death rate was 7.6%

  • For those with no previous illness, the death rate was 1.4%

  • Age is a major factor. The younger you are, the less likely you are to get the virus, and the less likely you are to die.

  • Pregnant women are not more at risk, and the children are not born with coronavirus.

  • New coronavirus cases are steadily declining in China. Last month it was roughly 3,000 a day. Today it’s 329 a day. This is because when a new case is found, the Chinese government interviews the patient, asks who they have come in contact with, and then they test those people. Their approach is being hailed as a ground-breaking approach to disease containment. This authoritarian approach that has helped China will likely not be tolerated in other developed countries.

*For more information on this study, click here.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Origins:

Researchers have traced the Coronavirus to a Huanan wholesale seafood market in the Chinese province of Wuhan, where several customers first became sick. Since then, it has spread like wildfire across the Asian continent and around the world.

First of all, the term “coronavirus” is a family of viruses. The family of coronaviruses seems to have originated from bats. Several coronaviruses can then spread to other domesticated mammals like pigs. And once in a while, in places that lack proper hygiene, these viruses can spread from these animals to humans. That’s what we’re seeing here.

Perhaps the most famous coronavirus is the SARS coronavirus epidemic of 2003 or the Mers coronavirus epidemic of 2012. Officially, the Wuhan coronavirus is called the 2019-nCov.

One man, Li Wenliang attempted to stop the spread of coronavirus at the end of 2019 by releasing statements on social media revealing the spread of a SARS-like virus through the province of Wuhan. However, he was condemned by the Chinese government who have since been accused of a failed coverup.

As of the day that I am writing this, Li Wenliang has died of coronavirus.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Death Toll:

As mentioned above, the Wuhan coronavirus has recently become the deadliest epidemic of coronavirus in history, with the most recent death toll topping 3,202. Cases are being reported around the world.

The new coronavirus has a death toll that is 20 times higher that of influenza. In the 2018/2019 flu season, influenza’s mortality rate is .001%. As of now, the Wuhan coronavirus has a mortality rate of 2% to 4%. Most of those who have died from the Wuhan coronavirus were already ill and the elderly.

To put this into perspective, the mortality rate of SARS was 9.6% (and though it killed overall fewer people than the new coronavirus, you had a five-times higher chance of dying if you contracted it).

The most deadly coronavirus was Mers, the middle eastern epidemic of 2012 which was harder to contract between humans, but had a mortality rate of 35%, and killed 600 people during its run.

*For the 2018/2019 flu season statistics, click here.

The death toll of the new coronavirus—though tragic—doesn’t yet hold a candle to the yearly death toll of the common flu: between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths a year.

That said, there is cause for concern because coronavirus does seem to be spreading across the planet. If it can’t be stopped, then it could far outweigh the death toll of influenza. One expert, Marc Lipstitch, has predicted that 40% to 70% of the world’s population will be infected in the coming year.

This is not because of the deadliness of the virus, but because of its subtle gestation and high-rate of contagion. But we’ll cover more about this in the next session.

As of March 15th, those who have died from the coronavirus stand at:

  • China: 3,199
  • Hong Kong: 4
  • Philippines: 11
  • S. Korea: 75
  • Italy: 1,441
  • Iran: 611
  • Japan: 22
  • France: 91
  • Spain: 196
  • USA: 60
  • Thailand: 1
  • Taiwan: 1
  • Australia: 1
  • San Marino: 5
  • Austria: 1
  • Greece: 4
  • Germany: 9
  • Switzerland: 13
  • UK: 21
  • Norway: 3
  • Sweden: 2
  • Netherlands: 12
  • Denmark: 1
  • Japan: 22
  • Canada: 1
  • Slovenia: 1
  • Ireland: 2
  • Indonesia: 5
  • Poland: 3
  • Iraq: 10
  • Lebanon: 3
  • Egypt: 2
  • India: 2
  • Luxembourg: 1
  • Taiwan: 1
  • Algeria: 3
  • Argentina: 2
  • Bulgaria: 2
  • Panama: 1
  • Albania: 1
  • Ecuador: 2
  • Azerbaijan: 1
  • Morocco: 1
  • Ukraine: 1
  • Guyana: 1
  • Sudan: 1

Also, 706 cases are also people who were quarantined off the coast of Japan on the Diamond Princess cruise ship of several nationalities, including several Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and Australians. As of today 7 deaths occurred on the Diamond Princess.

Concerning infections, there are 93,160 infections in 80 different countries as of March 4th, 2020. About 80% of those infected have mild symptoms, but this only serves to further the spread of the virus.

However, we should note that there are huge problems with the way that the data is collected, and the coronavirus numbers are probably far higher in reality. For example in the United States, there were huge problems with the CDC test kits that were developed.

*For more information on this, click here.

*NOTE: The facts of the spread of coronavirus are changing DAILY. If you want a LIVE update of the overall cases and deaths by country, click here.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Symptoms of Wuhan Coronavirus:

The coronavirus has a gestation period of about 5 to 14 days, and then people begin to show symptoms—which has made it incredibly subtle and prolific in its distribution. You don’t even know you’re carrying the virus for several days. And yes, you can spread coronavirus before showing symptoms. That’s why this disease is so dangerous.

*Some Chinese researchers have even claimed that this gestation period could be up to 24 days.

Then, you get symptoms that you would typically associate with the common cold or the flu, such as cough, fever, and then—in some cases—eventually pneumonia. Pneumonia is a fluid buildup in your lungs. In the worst cases, this then leads to organ failure.

Remember that, because this is a viral infection, antibiotics are of no use. Therefore, you have to fight it off using your own immune system until a vaccine can be developed.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Wuhan Coronavirusm Vaccine:

When it comes to the Wuhan coronavirus, the planet has been working in unison at an unprecedented rate. Global resources were mobilized immediately. The virus was identified incredibly fast, and its genome was sequenced and shared internationally within weeks.

The global community—especially China—has taken drastic steps toward containment. China locked down entire cities. Other nations have followed suit.

Work on a vaccine is well underway. Though it will likely take 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine and have it on the market. One Californian lab claimed to have developed a working vaccine 3 hours after it gained access to the genome, and it hopes to go into human trials shortly. However, according to some of the United States’ top virus experts, they agree that it will take over a year to get this vaccine on the market.

An Israeli lab is also weeks away from their vaccine, and they hope to have a working vaccine that has passed human trials 90 days after they are done developing it. Therefore, there is hope that the process can be sped up, and we will have a working coronavirus vaccine in under a year.

However, some experts think that a vaccine will not help much in the way of containment. The cat is out of the bag already, so to speak. To learn more about this, click here.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Will My Insurance Cover the Wuhan Coronavirus?

The question we are receiving the most recently is, Will my insurance cover the Wuhan coronavirus? 

This is a tricky question, and it really depends on your particular plan and level of coverage. It also depends on where you are if you file a claim, or if the WHO has deemed the coronavirus to be an epidemic. 

However, there is hope! You can get some form of coverage! This coverage will only be found in long-term yearly policies. Let’s break this down further:

– Travel Insurance Policies –

First of all, your travel insurance will likely not cover you. Insurance policies typically have written in the fine print that they do not cover epidemics and pandemics because of these are short-term policies that do not cover “foreseen events”.

– Travel Cancellation Benefits –

You will likely get no cancellation benefits. This is because coronavirus is now being considered a foreseen event. This restricts the travel cancellation benefits that you can claim for your trip. So don’t fly through countries with coronavirus if possible.

*For more information on coronavirus and travel cancellation insurance, click here.

– Major Medical Benefits –

There is hope that you can get peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones! You could get coverage to protect yourself from the Wuhan coronavirus. Several of WeExpats’ insurance providers have released statements saying that they have banded together and they will be offering some coverage in order to help fight this pandemic.

Click here to read our article on the Insurers Response to the Coronavirus.

Anti-Chinese Xenophobia Wuhan Coronavirus

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Xenophobia:

Xenophobia has gripped the planet as the virus spreads. Notable cases have been reported in France where a Chinese man’s viral plea that he not be seen as just a virus has shed light on the anti-Asian sentiment in France.

Many countries have shut their borders to Chinese flights, including the United States, Australia, and Hong Kong. Recently, India suspended all visas from countries like South Korea, Iran, and Italy that have spikes in coronavirus population. Other countries like USA and Vietnam are following suit in blocking all European flights.

Australia has sent flights to China to retrieve Australian citizens. They are then being quarantined on an abandoned former mining camp on the island of Darwin until they can be assured to not be infected. This comes after Christmas Island was packed

Perhaps the most strict is Singapore who has rescinded Chinese arrival without a visa, and is only allowing Singaporian citizens returning from mainland China to land on its borders. No one else.

They are immediately subjected to a 14-day quarantine on arrival. Then another 14 days away from work. Any violators are subjected to $8,000 USD in fines and 6 months in jail. This is because Singapore was hit hard by SARS in 2003, with over 200 cases and 30+ deaths.

Thailand recently received passengers from mainland China as well. This comes after Thailand’s Minister of Health has come under scrutiny for his comments advocating that “farang in Thailand” be deported for not wearing masks. Even after being forced to apologize, he has continued his racist tirade.

Anti-Chinese sentiments grip the planet. The author of this piece is currently living in Danang, Vietnam where cases of Wuhan coronavirus have been detected. Signs refusing service to Chinese tourists have been posted throughout Vietnam and other parts of Asia.

– Violence and Coronavirus –

Violence has begun to break out in regards to the coronavirus. Using the United Kingdom as an example, in the last 24 hours since this article was written, a Singaporean student named Jonathan Mok was beaten in London by several individuals while they shouted “coronavirus!

Continuing with the UK example, on February 24th, in a bar in Birmingham, a man told a Chinese woman “take your f—ing coronavirus and take it back home”. When the Chinese woman’s friend interceded, the man beat her unconscious.

Two weeks before that in the UK, a 24-year old Thai tax consultant was beaten in West London by two youths who left him bleeding with a broken nose as they yelled, “Coronavirus! Coronavirus!”

*All of us at WeExpats urge you to remember to be kind and compassionate. We do not condone racially-driven prejudice, abuse, or violence in any way, shape, or form.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Face Masks:

The number one approach to protecting oneself from Wuhan coronavirus seems to be the face mask. Asians already have had a long tradition of wearing masks dating from the 1918 outbreak of Spanish Flu that wracked the world.

This seems to be on overdrive during the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak. Chinese are even rushing to purchase masks for their dogs. Many experts advocate wearing face masks. However, they do admit that likely, masks will not protect you.

Masks only help in the great scheme to contain the SPREADING of the virus. If you have coronavirus, then you decrease the chances of giving it to someone else. Let’s look into this further.

The first style of mask is the surgical mask that is most common and inexpensive. The simple fact of the matter is that these are very helpful in stopping the spread of the disease because they catch the particles of watery mucous that contain the virus. That’s because these masks are designed to prevent the bacteria in the mouth of the wearer from spreading into the open wound of a surgical patient.

The second style of mask is the N95 respirator masks. These are designed to fit tightly around your mouth and filter out pollution on days with bad air quality. They can filter out particles down to 0.3 microns in diameter. However, the virus is .12 microns in diameter, so it’s about ⅓ of the size of the smallest particle the N95 filters out. Therefore, this type of mask just creates a tighter seal that will decrease the chances of you inhaling water droplets.

Culturally, wearing a mask signals to others that you are conscious of the effort to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Masks must be changed often—once or twice a day if possible.

However, masks mostly help you in remembering not to touch your face—which is one of the best things you can do to prevent the spread of Wuhan coronavirus.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Washing Hands:

Washing your hands is the best thing that you can do to help prevent yourself from getting the Wuhan coronavirus. You should wash your hands often and thoroughly in the hottest water that you can stand for 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t just wash your fingertips, wash past the wrist, preferably up to your elbow. Imagine that you’re preparing yourself for surgery.

Another thing that you can do to protect yourself is to wear gloves whenever possible. Gloves are not as thorough as washing your hands, and they do create single-use plastic waste. However, in an emergency where you are not able to wash your hands or use some sort of hand sanitizer, then gloves can help in a pinch.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Don’t Touch Your Face:

If you do have coronavirus water droplets on your hands (which you never know), then it’s very important that you not touch your face. Getting it into your mouth, your eyes, or your nose is the primary way that this disease spreads.

Though it sounds simple enough, once you start to pay attention, you notice how often you touch your face. This is why masks can be beneficial in helping you remember not to touch your face.

If you have to touch your face, first wash your hands thoroughly.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Sanitize Door Handles and Other Objects:

Sanitizing anything that comes in contact with the human hand is very important. That means door handles, doorknobs, toilet handles, kitchenware and cutlery, remote controls—even your cell phone.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Eye Protection:

One doctor in China named Wang Guangfa was recently criticized for claiming that stopping the spread of the disease was easy. He then contracted the disease himself.

He professed that he was washing his hands and wearing masks adamantly, but he was no exception to contracting the disease. Therefore, he proposed the theory that Wuhan coronavirus is so contagious, it can be spread through one’s eyes, and thus we should be wearing eye protection.

*For now, all experts recommend that it’s just best to not touch your face, however, eye protection doesn’t hurt.

How to Protect Yourself from Wuhan Coronavirus – Conclusion:

As the world rushes to develop a vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus, we must remember not to panic. The odds are still in your favor of not getting this disease, and they’re even smaller of dying from it.

Though the Wuhan coronavirus is spreading quickly, it is a testament to human ingenuity and globalization that as fast as it spreads, it’s also rapidly documented and the issue is addressed. Every case is monitored. The whole world is sharing its research. There will be a cure.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay hygienic, and stay calm.

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