You may have heard about a virus called Coronavirus that is spreading around the world. You may be wondering how this may affect you and you family and what you can do to prevent yourself from getting it.
What is a virus?
A virus is a tiny single cell microorganism not visible by the naked eye. Other microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, and parasites. There are thousands of microorganisms in our bodies and in the environment. Most of them live there without causing any harm. In fact most microorganisms are beneficial for us and our environment. However, some microorganisms have the potential to make us sick. You’ve probably been sick from a virus before if you’ve had the common cold which can cause a sore throat, runny nose and cough.
Viruses are made up of a tiny piece of genetic code (DNA or RNA) encased inside an outer protein shell or capsule. When viruses enter your body they have the potential to make you sick.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause the common cold. Recently a new strain of Coronavirus has developed (a novel Coronavirus), called SARS-COV 2. This strain of Coronavirus has been spreading around the world causing some people to get sick in whats called a pandemic. The symptoms include a cough, fever (feeling hot or shivers), runny nose, sore throat, loss of smell or taste.
How do people get Coronavirus?
SARS-COV 2 enters the body through droplets spread by someone that has the virus. This can be when they cough or sneeze near you or if you touch a surface that they’ve coughed or sneezed on or touched with their hands after touching their nose.
The virus enters the body through your nose or mouth or eyes and enters your respiratory system. It then enters the cell of the body by attaching to a cell with its spike protein. It then enters the cell through a receptor called the Ace-2 receptor.
Will I get sick?
People can get SARS-COV 2 and not even know that they have it. Some people can develop mild symptoms similar to the common cold such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose and some people can get a flu like illness where they feel hot or have shivers (fever), and a bad cough. In rare circumstances some people have to go to hospital to get treatment to help them.
Children don’t usually get very sick if they get Coronavirus or SARS-COV 2. This is because the receptor through which the virus enters the cell, the ACE 2 receptor is only present in children in small amounts, so the virus finds it difficult to get into the cells.
What can I do to avoid getting Coronavirus?
SARS-COV 2 is spread from an infected person by droplets from their nose when they sneeze or mouth when they cough. It can also live on surfaces (or fomites) for up to 9 days.
1) Stay home
Staying at home means you don’t come into contact with people that have the Coronavirus. Its also very important that if you have any symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sore throat or fever you stay home to prevent other people from getting it from you.
2) Wear a mask
Masks reduce the risk of spreading the Coronavirus if you cough or sneeze. They will also reduce the chances of you getting the Coronavirus if someone coughs or sneezes near you. If you need to go out then wear a mask.
3) Social distancing.
You many have also heard of the term social distancing. This means keeping your distance from other people to minimise the chances of you getting the Coronavirus if someone near you coughs or sneezes. When someone coughs or sneezes, the droplets can spread up to 8 metres away. It is recommended that you keep at least 1.5 metres distance between you and other people.
4) Use hand sanitiser and/ or wash your hands frequently.
When you are out and about you may touch surfaces for example groceries at the supermarket or the supermarket trolley. It is important when this happens that you either wash your hands or sanitise them as they may have Coronavirus on them.
How long will Coronavirus be around for?
We don’t know for certain, but in the past viruses that have spread around the world (or pandemics) have lasted anywhere between a few months and a couple of years. However, scientists around the world are working very quickly on a vaccine against the Coronavirus to prevent people from getting the virus. They have already developed vaccines and are now testing them to make sure they are safe. They could be ready in as little as a few months time, but may take longer. Until then we may have some changes such as home schooling and parents working from home. But that isn’t so bad is it?
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