A delicate but very contagious virus, about 900 times smaller than the width of a human hair, is spreading from person to person around the world. Coronavirus, as it is known, has already infected people in at least 60 countries.
Because this virus is so new, the experts’ understanding of how it is transmitted is limited. However, they can offer some guidance on the ways in which it seems to be transmitted and in which it does not.
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You enter a grocery store full of people. One of the clients has coronavirus. What puts you most at risk of becoming infected through that person?
Experts agree that there is still a lot that is not known, but there are likely to be four factors at stake: how close you are, how much time you are near the person, if the person projects viral drops on you and How much you touch your face. (Of course, your age and your health are also major factors).
What is a viral drop?
It is a drop that contains viral particles. A virus is a small codependent microbe that clings to a cell, invades it, reproduces and passes to its next host. That is his “lifestyle,” said Gary Whittaker, a professor of Virology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.
A “naked” virus cannot go anywhere unless it is transported by a drop of mucus or saliva, said Kin-on Kwok, a professor at the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
These drops of mucus and saliva are expelled from the mouth or nose when we cough, sneeze, laugh, sing, breathe and talk. If they did not run into something on the road, they usually reach the floor or the ground.
To access your cells, viral drops must enter through the eyes, nose or mouth. Some experts believe that sneezing and coughing are the main forms of transmission. Kwok said that talking in front of someone or sharing food could pose risks.
Julian Tang, a virologist and professor at the University of Leicester in England who is investigating the coronavirus, agreed.
“If you can smell what someone had lunch – garlic, curry, etc. – you are inhaling what they are exhaling, including any virus in their breath,” he said.
How close is too close?
Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO), said it is better to be one meter away from a sick person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States said it is risky to be 2 meters away.
How long is too much when you are near an infected person?
It is still unclear, but most experts agree that more time carries more risk.
Can you tell if a person is sick?
Keep in mind that, if you get sick, most of the symptoms are as mild as those of a cold or the flu. Either way, others who become infected with the coronavirus never get sick. (Technically, COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the respiratory virus).
However, the other aspect of the situation is that it can be difficult to know who is capable of spreading the coronavirus.
In an increasing number of cases, people without symptoms have infected others. WHO still believes that the majority of those who have spread the coronavirus were obviously ill at the time of transmission, Lindmeier said.
Health workers disinfected subway cars in Tehran at the end of February. Coronavirus is a delicate virus that is easily killed with a disinfectant.
Can the virus last in a bus tube, a touch screen or other surface?
Yes. After several people who attended a Buddhist temple in Hong Kong became ill, the City’s Center for Health Protection collected samples of the place. Bathroom faucets and cloth covers above Buddhist texts tested positive for coronavirus tests, the agency said.
Technically, the virus generally known as the coronavirus is only the most recent form of various viruses with similar forms. (Coronaviruses are named for the tips that leave their surfaces, which resemble a crown or the crown of the Sun.) A study of other coronaviruses revealed that they remain in metal, glass and plastic for two hours to nine days.
It is irrelevant that a surface looks clean or dirty. If an infected person sneezed and a drop landed on a surface, the person who then touched it could pick it up. It is not clear how much it takes to infect a person.
Coronaviruses are relatively easy to destroy, Whittaker said. By using a disinfectant on a surface, the delicate wrap around the small microbe can be broken, which makes it harmless.
If you wash your hands before touching your face, you should be fine, because the viral drops do not cross the skin.
If you’re worried about getting sick from someone who maybe sneezed on a product you ordered and is made in China, don’t be alarmed. In the time it takes to get to the United States, you should be sure, and, if you are really worried, you can clean the surface with disinfectant or wash your hands after touching it.
Passengers on a bus in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. If an infected person sneezes and a drop falls on a surface, a person who then touches that surface could pick it up, experts said.
Does the brand or type of soap that is used matter?
No, several experts responded.
My neighbor is coughing. Should I be worry?
There is no evidence that viral particles can pass through walls or glass, said Ashish K. Jha, director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard University.
He said he was more concerned about common spaces than the dangers posed by ventilation, as long as there is good air circulation in a room.
An infected neighbor may sneeze on a railing and, if you touched it, “that would be a more natural way to get the virus because of your neighbor,” he said.
Can I get it if I kiss someone?
Kissing could definitely be a cause of infection, several experts said.
Although coronaviruses are generally not transmitted sexually, it is too early to know, WHO said.
Is it safe to eat where there are people with coronavirus?
If a sick person handles food or it is a busy buffet, then the risks cannot be ruled out, but heating or reheating the food should kill the virus, Whittaker said.
Waiters await diners in a restaurant in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
“As a general rule, we have not seen food as a transmission mechanism,” he said.
Can my dog and cat be with me in the quarantine safely?
Thousands of people have already begun to isolate themselves with different types of quarantines. Some have been entrusted by health officials and others are voluntary and mainly involve staying at home.
Whittaker, who has studied the spread of coronavirus in animals and humans, said he has not seen evidence that a person could be a danger to his pet.