OSEA Safety News

Coronavirus Disease

Monday, April 13th, 2020

COrona VIrus Disease 2019 (COVIC-19)

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV.

The source of coronaviruses is a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.

This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person throughout the world. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community, also known as community spread. This means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

For most, if not all of us, management of a pandemic is not something we are used to dealing with. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the last great worldwide pandemic was the Spanish influenza outbreak in 1918. The Spanish Influenza pandemic was the most severe in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel during World War I in the spring of 1918.

It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.

Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood.

With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.

Jump forward a little over a hundred years to 2020 and we have COVID-19 spreading like no other disease medical professionals have seen. Unlike influenza outbreaks in the past, this virus can allow a person to be asymptomatic, or present no symptoms, but remain communicable, which means that you are sick, but you are not demonstrating any symptoms, for 2-14 days, like fever, coughing and shortness of breath and spreading the virus.

Like the 1918 Spanish flu, the best control was isolation, quarantine and what we now call social distancing, and according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease states every day during the daily White House press briefings.

Most people will have mild symptoms and get better on their own. But about 1 in 6 will have severe problems, such as trouble breathing. The odds of more serious symptoms are higher if you’re older or have another underlying health condition like heart disease, diabetes or lung disease like asthma.

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of this and other respiratory viruses, including the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and keep children home from school when they are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs. Dirty surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, use products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2external icon, the cause of COVID-19, and are appropriate for the surface.
  • Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
  • Practice social distancing at work and maintain distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.
  • If you cannot maintain the 6-foot social distance, and if available, please utilize N-95 respirators. In their absence, a homemade cotton face covering mask completely covering your mouth and nose is better than no protection. Wash and dry your cloth mask following your shift.
  • Disinfection also extends to your home. Taking off your work shoes and wiping down surface areas will prevent possible contamination of your home.

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