- What Is Coronavirus?
- How does the new coronavirus spread?
- How did this new coronavirus spread to humans?
- What is the incubation period for COVID-19?
- What are symptoms of COVID-19?
- How is COVID-19 treated?
- Does COVID-19 cause death?
- Is this coronavirus different from SARS?
- How do you protect yourself from this coronavirus?
- Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard offers a real-time window on a global pandemic
What Is Coronavirus?
What You Need to Know
- COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in China in December 2019.
- COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, unexplained loss of taste or smell, diarrhea and headache. COVID-19 can be severe, and some cases have caused death
- The new coronavirus can be spread from person to person. It is diagnosed with a laboratory test.
- There is no coronavirus vaccine yet. Prevention involves frequent hand-washing, coughing into the bend of your elbow, staying home when you are sick and wearing a cloth face covering if you can't practice social distancing.
Coronaviruses are a type of virus. There are many different kinds, and some cause disease. A newly identified type has caused a recent outbreak of respiratory illness now called COVID-19.
Lauren Sauer, M.S., the director of operations with the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response and director of research with the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, shares information about COVID-19 and what you need to know.
How does the new coronavirus spread?
As of now, researchers know that the new coronavirus is spread through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets generally do not travel more than a few feet, and they fall to the ground (or onto surfaces) in a few seconds — this is why social and physical distancing is effective in preventing the spread.
How did this new coronavirus spread to humans?
COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, a city in China, in December 2019. Although health officials are still tracing the exact source of this new coronavirus, early hypotheses thought it may be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China.
Some people who visited the market developed viral pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus. A study that came out on Jan. 25, 2020, notes that the individual with the first reported case became ill on Dec. 1, 2019, and had no link to the seafood market.
Investigations are ongoing as to how this virus originated and spread.
What is the incubation period for COVID-19?
It appears that symptoms are showing up in people within 14 days of exposure to the virus.
What are symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Unexplained loss of taste or smell
In rare cases, COVID-19 can lead to severe respiratory problems, kidney failure or death.
If you have a fever or any kind of respiratory difficulty such as coughing or shortness of breath, call your doctor or a health care provider and explain your symptoms over the phone before going to the doctor’s office, urgent care facility or emergency room. Here are suggestions if you feel sick and are concerned you might have COVID-19.
If you have a medical emergency such as severe shortness of breath, call 911 and let them know about your symptoms.
Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms.
Diagnosis may be difficult with only a physical exam because mild cases of COVID-19 may appear similar to the flu or a bad cold. A laboratory test can confirm the diagnosis. Learn more about COVID-19 testing.
How is COVID-19 treated?
As of now, there is not a specific treatment for the virus. People who become sick from COVID-19 should be treated with supportive measures: those that relieve symptoms. For severe cases, there may be additional options for treatment, including research drugs and therapeutics.
Does COVID-19 cause death?
As of May 17, 2020, 312,188 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. However, 1,703,322 people have recovered from the illness. This information comes from the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases map developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Is this coronavirus different from SARS?
SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. In 2003, an outbreak of SARS started in China and spread to other countries before ending in 2004.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is similar to the one that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak: both are types of coronaviruses.
Much is still unknown, but COVID-19 seems to spread faster than the 2003 SARS and also may cause less severe illness.
How do you protect yourself from this coronavirus?
It’s crucial to practice good hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social and physical distancing. Read more about ways to protect yourself.
Check symptoms. Protect yourself. Get information.
If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19, follow these steps to help protect your health and the health of others.
- Coronaviruses are common in different animals. Rarely, an animal coronavirus can infect humans.
- There are many different kinds of coronaviruses. Some of them can cause colds or other mild respiratory (nose, throat, lung) illnesses.
- Other coronaviruses can cause more serious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
- Coronaviruses are named for their appearance: Under the microscope, the viruses look they are covered with pointed structures that surround them a corona, or crown.
What you need to know from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard offers a real-time window on a global pandemic
Lauren Gardner is an engineering professor, and tracking infectious diseases has been a focus for her and her students.
Working with a team in Australia, she developed tools to help prevent the global spread of diseases such as dengue fever. Last year, she led a team that identified U.S.
counties most ly to confront a measles outbreak.
And when there were reports Wuhan, China, about a novel coronavirus, she and two doctoral students saw an opportunity to count and map the cases and learn from the data as a research project.
But as interest in the virus grew, the Johns Hopkins University team decided to make the site public on Jan. 22. Called an interactive web-based dashboard, it includes a world map, and shows hot spots and a regularly updated catalog of cases, deaths, and those recovered. The data are sorted by country and province or state.
Her team was stunned at the response: As of early March, the site was drawing about 1.2 billion “requests” per day, defined as the number of times visitors have “accessed the underlying data” while visiting the dashboard.
“This really speaks to this huge demand for reliable, trustworthy, objective information, especially around situations these,” Gardner, an associate professor in the department of civil and systems engineering, said at a congressional briefing this month. “This is clearly something that was missing and needs to exist moving forward.”
Now her 12-person team updates the data “in near real time” throughout the day. It is used by news sites, government agencies, private industry, even the White House, said Ed Schlesinger, dean of Johns Hopkins’ engineering school.
He noted a photo on the PBS News Hour site from Feb. 28 with Alex Azar, health and human services secretary, giving Vice President Mike Pence a tour of the secretary’s operations center.
Both were looking at the Hopkins map displayed on a wall.
“It’s been cited around the world, in Germany, in Brazil and Argentina and Japan, in Australia and India and Spain,” he said. “It really has, dare I say, gone viral.”
Public health officials see value in keeping the public informed about issues that can so severely impact their lives.
“The more people know what’s going on around the world, the better prepared we all will be,” said Jim Garrow, a spokesperson for Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health.
As of Thursday afternoon, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide had climbed to more than 236,000, the site noted in red. Deaths had risen to 9,790, noted in white, but on a positive note, nearly 85,000 people had recovered, noted in green.
A viewer can zoom in on a province, state, or country and get more specific statistics.
“The work she and her students do is really about tracking. It’s about predicting. It’s about seeing the ebb and flow of these sorts of infectious diseases,” Schlesinger said.
In her congressional presentation, Gardner explained that her team gets data from sources including the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Health Commission in China, and supplements information with reports from local health departments and reputable news sources. Then the team compares data with official reports.
With few exceptions, her team early on was consistently reporting data from other countries before the WHO, she said. One exception was when most of the data were being entered manually and one of her doctoral students overslept.
They started their work in an office research space but have expanded to a conference room. Following health officials’ guidelines, no more than a few are in the space at any time, to allow for social distancing, Schlesinger said.
“The very thing that they’re tracking is the thing that’s forcing them to not be all together,” he said.
They have heard from people in all corners of the world, and at times received more information than the data they had. They vet the tips and update as necessary, Schlesinger said.
“Things that we used to think of as the domain exclusively of institutions becomes the domain of individuals,” he said. “So a map, such as this, that maybe in the past only people working in the World Health Organization or CDC might have … all of a sudden everyone sitting at home can look at the dashboard.”
Gardner’s team hopes to report county level data in the United States at some point, he said. Over time, the vigorous data gathering can yield a lot of useful information, such as the success of social distancing, he said.