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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Novel coronavirus, also called 2019-nCoV, is the newest discovered coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. It belongs in the same family of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. It is called coronavirus because, on electron microscopy, the shape of the virus looks like a crown.

A series of genetic amplification assays associated with the Center for Disease Control in China was developed to help check dozens of cases of the novel coronavirus.

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Symptoms:

Doctors are learning new things about this virus every day. So far we know that COVID-19 may not initially cause any symptoms.

You may carry the virus for 2 days or up to 2 weeksTrusted Source before you notice symptoms.

Some common symptoms that have been specifically linked to the 2019 coronavirus include:

  • feeling short of breath
  • having a cough that gets more severe over time
  • a low-grade fever that gradually increases in temperature

The 2019 coronavirus is much more deadly than seasonal flu.

An estimated 0.06 to 0.1 percentTrusted Source of people who developed the flu during the 2019–2020 flu season in the United States died (as of February 2020), compared to around 2 percentTrusted Source of those diagnosed with the 2019 coronavirus.

Here are some common symptoms of a flu infection:

  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Body Aches

Causes:

Coronaviruses are zoonotic. This means they first develop in animals before developing in humans.

For the virus to pass from animal to humans, a person has to come into close contact with an animal that carries the infection.

Once the virus develops in people, coronaviruses can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. This is a technical name for the wet stuff that moves through the air when you cough or sneeze.

The viral material hangs out in these droplets and can be breathed into the respiratory tract (your windpipe and lungs), where the virus can then lead to an infection.

The 2019 coronavirus hasn’t been definitively linked to a specific animal.

But researchers believe that the virus may have been passed from bats to another animal — either snakes or pangolins — and then transmitted to humans. This transmission likely occurred in the open food market in Wuhan, China.

How To Diagnose:

The 2019 coronavirus can be diagnosed similarly to other viral infections: using a blood, saliva, or tissue sample. In the United States, only the CDC Trusted Source currently has the ability to diagnose a COVID-19 infection.

Talk to your doctor right away if you think you have a coronavirus infection, especially if you’ve traveled to China in the past 14 days. Your doctor will speak to local public health officials to provide guidance on whether testing for the virus is needed.

A lab technician will either draw a sample of your blood with a needle or use a cotton swab to take a small sample of saliva or respiratory secretions from your nose or the back of your throat.

The sample is then sent to a testing facility to confirm the presence of viral material or antibodies that respond to the virus.

Collecting Samples for testing of novel coronavirus?

  • Nasal and oral swab – The sample should be collected using a sacron or polyester flocked swab. It should be immediately sent to the laboratory making sure that the temperature during transport is 4 degrees Celsius. It should be immediately tested on or before it reaches five days post collection. It is a must to place the swab in the same tube to increase the viral load.
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage – The specimen should be placed in a sterile container and the temperature during transport should be 4 degrees Celsius and has to be checked within two days. If it passed two days, the temperature should be less than 70 degrees Celsius.
  • Endotracheal and/or nasopharynheal aspirate/nasal wash – The sample must be placed in a sterile container and transported to the laboratory in a 4-degrees Celsius. It can be stored up to two days at the same temperature. When more than two days, the desired temperature should be less than 70 degrees Celsius.
  • Sputum – The specimen is placed in a sterile container and transported to the laboratory at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Tissue from biopsy/autopsy of the lung – The specimen is placed in a sterile container with water and transported to the laboratory for testing at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Serum – the serum is collected and placed in a serum separator tube and transported to the laboratory at 4-degrees Celsius.
  • Whole blood – The specimen is placed in a collection tube and transported to the laboratory for testing at a 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Urine – the urine is placed in a sterile urine collection container and transported to the laboratory at a 4 degrees Celsius.

CDC Laboratory Test Kit for COVID-19

The Center for Disease Control has developed a test kit that can check the patient’s specimen for SARS coronavirus 2, which is the same virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019.

The test kit is known as center for disease control and prevention 2019-novel coronavirus real-rime reverse transcriptase-PCR diagnostic panel. It should be used with applied biosystems 7500 fast DX real-time PCR instrument with SDS 1.4 software.

The test kit is used to check for specimens of the upper and lower respiratory tract of a person that meets the criteria of CDC for coronavirus disease 2019.

The test kit should only be used by CDC approved laboratories. In the United States, such laboratories should be certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments in performing high complexity tests.

However, it is important to note that the test kit will not be made available in the United States hospitals and related primary care settings. On the flip side, the test kit will be shipped to qualified international laboratories. It will be distributed through the International Reagent Resource.

Treatment of Coronavirus :

There’s currently no treatment specifically approved for the 2019 coronavirus, and no cure for an infection, although treatments and vaccines are currently under study. Instead, treatment focuses on managing symptoms as the virus runs its course.

Seek immediate medical help if you think you have COVID-19. Your doctor will recommend treatment for any symptoms or complications that develop.

Other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS do have vaccines and treatments. Some treatments for these similar viruses include:

  • antiviral or retroviral medications
  • breathing support like mechanical ventilation
  • steroids to reduce lung swelling
  • blood plasma transfusions

How to prevent coronaviruses

The best way to prevent the spread of this virus is to avoid or limit contact with people who are showing symptoms of the virus and have traveled to China in the past 14 days.

The next best thing you can do is practice good hygiene to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading.

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds at a time with warm water and soap.
  • Don’t touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth when your hands are dirty.
  • Don’t go out if you’re feeling sick or have any cold or flu symptoms.
  • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow whenever you sneeze or cough. Throw away any tissues you use to blow your nose or sneeze right away.
  • Keep any objects you touch a lot clean. Use disinfectants on objects like phones, computers, utensils, dishware, and door handles.

References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/guidelines-clinical-specimens.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/guidelines-clinical-specimens.html
  3. https://asm.org/Articles/2020/February/Next-Steps-for-Novel-Coronavirus-Medical-Laborator
  4. https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus
  5. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200206-sitrep-17-ncov.pdf
  6. https://www.health.gov.au/news/coronavirus-update-at-a-glance
  7. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/coronavirus-singapore-fully-recovered-patients-list-12416232
  8. https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/coronavirus-death-toll-infections-outbreak-evacuations-quarantine-latest-updates-2020-02-10/
  9. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/new-coronavirus-updates-number-confirmed-cases-drops-disease-s-epicenter-n1133141
  10. https://www.moh.gov.sg/2019-ncov-wuhan
  11. https://time.com/5782284/who-name-coronavirus-covid-19/
  12. https://www.vox.com/2020/2/14/21135208/coronavirus-wuhan-china-covid-19-name-sars-cov-2
  13. https://www.healthline.com/health/coronavirus-covid-19

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