Almost everyday for the last two weeks, there is nothing else on the news, social media, and the circles we move in that does not discuss COVID-19. The whole world has stopped – travel, businesses, conferences, concerts – anything that has to do with travelling and gathering large groups of people. It seems that there is so much concern about the virus which comes from the coronavirus that also gave us the Ebola, SARS and MERS a few years ago, which did not have the same media coverage, and much of the scare that we hear everyday right now.
Most medical journals will tell you that most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous. Anyone can get it, and most infections are usually mild, especially in children and young adults. But if you aren’t in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, haven’t travelled from an area where it’s spreading, and haven’t been in contact with someone who has it, your risk of infection is low.
The concern over coronavirus is understandable, but science, not stigma and social media paranoia, should guide our responses. Older people and those with weakened immune systems or medical conditions like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, or diabetes are most likely to get a serious illness. People who have auto-immune deficiencies are also vulnerable to the virus. For individuals who are immunosuppressed, the virus poses a much greater risk and can turn into something more serious, like bronchitis or pneumonia. Researchers believe the illness spreads when people come in contact with bodily fluids from someone who is already infected.
The chances of one of us contracting the new coronavirus, however, is not that high at the moment, but the outbreak itself is something you should be paying attention to especially when people start travelling to different parts of the world where the virus seems to have spread quickly. The likelihood of getting COVID-19 is possible if a person affected with it is six feet away from you and sneezes or coughs on you, and you put your hand on your face, where bodily fluids from your eyes, nose and mouth can transfer the virus into your body quickly. Canada, so far, has been good at making sure that anyone who might have the infection, is quarantined and given a go-signal to go home once the incubation period has passed. So, in communities like ours, the likelihood of someone with the virus riding on the bus beside you is low.
If you’re a healthy person who gets a cold once in a while, the coronavirus is not fatal. It’s not the Hollywood type of pandemic that wipes out an entire continent. We’re just watching too many movies. Dean Koontz’s virus in “The Eyes of Darkness” was created as an agent of biological warfare. I do not believe the coronavirus would be that humanity-wiping virus that will spell Armageddon for us. It’s just too lame a virus.
While COVID-19 reportedly has a high recovery rate, it is also spreading fast, so we also must take precautions at preventing it from spreading – nothing a good handwashing with soap for twenty seconds, which is the equivalent of singing “Happy Birthday” twice or praying the “Hail Mary”, can solve. As long as people don’t forget to wash their hands, to cover their mouths when coughing, and to stay home if they are feeling sick, COVID-19 will die down in popularity like Ebola, SARS, and MERS. Although these viruses will not go away, we at least have a head start on how to prevent this from becoming bigger than what we can handle.