So I'm going to do an information dump. I've been a member of this forum for 11 years and have never contributed anything, other than the occasional shit joke and complaining about how my childrens toy commercials are poorly written. If this is the only thing I ever contribute, I'm okay with it.
I have a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology and and do most of my work in infectious diseases. I've worked in several countries around the world studying many different types of infectious diseases, including influenza, so between that and following what has been happening, I feel like I'm a little qualified to talk about this.
The one thing that every virologist will tell you, is that if anything is going to kill off the human population, it is a respiratory virus. The concern for COVID-19 is real, because of its high transmissibility and higher mortality rate than than seasonal influenza. I would advise everyone to excise precautions in the coming weeks and the months that follow for the health and safety of not only yourselves, but your friends and family.
I'll start by addressing parts of your post Mandalori, not to have a go at you, but to clear up some common misconceptions that you've said that I've seen/heard/read a lot.
We have a virus that's more harmless than the regular one, but since it's a new one, every leaders not on the medical field is freaking out
So when you say 'regular one', I'm assuming you're comparing it to seasonal influenza. Seasonal influenza has a mortality rate of about 0.1 percent of infected patients. Current data suggests that COVID-19 is between 2 - 3.5%, which is 20 to 35 times greater. While this might not seem like a lot, experts theorise that between 40%-70% of the worlds population will contract the virus. If make a conservative estimate and that half the worlds population gets infected, you'd still be looking at 100 million deaths from it.
The virus is only a problem for elders and already fragile people, but it's the same thing for all diseases
A partially correct statement. The mortality rate of the infection greatly increases in the 45+ age range, so anybody in this bracket needs to be proactive when they think they get symptoms in order to be treated appropriately. One major concern is that in addition to the substantial aged population that the planet has compared to 100 years ago, is the number of people that are immunosuppressed due to having medical conditions such as diabetes or taking drugs for organ transplants. These people have a 10-20% greater chance of mortality compared to age-matched healthy patients, so precautionary measures need to be taken to protect these people
And I'll make some extra points as they come to me
It's just like the flu!
Chances are you've never actually had the flu and are confusing a cold for it. The flu is a specific infection caused by the influenza virus. It sidelines you pretty hard with a dry cough, fevers and muscle pains. A cold is a cough and blocked/runny nose for a couple of days. The symptoms of the COVID-19 infection are actually similar to Influenza, so that's why anyone who has had influenza will recognise when they get it.
Even if it is as serious as you say, will I recover on my own if I get it?
It's hard to say, because everyone responds to infections differently. You might get it and never have any symptoms, you might be sick for two weeks or you might have to go to hospital to get ventilated because you can't breath unassisted.
This is where the real issue is. Most hospitals in the world do not have the infrastructure to deal with a global pandemic. Part of what governments are trying to do is to control the rate at which the populations gets infected, so the burden on the hospitals is reduced.
Take Italy as an example. It is under full quarantine, but hospitals are at capacity. I was talking to a friend who works as an ER doctor who was telling me that they do not have enough respirators to use on everyone. This also affecting other aspects of hospitals as well, as doctors and students from other parts of the hospital have been reassigned to help deal with the burden on the pandemic. Get into a car accident and need surgery? Chances are there won't be any respirators to keep you breathing or surgeons to do the surgery. This is why controlling the initial load of infection is important.
It'll go away in the Summer!
Nobody has any evidence of this, and Australia is probably going to have a big boom in the coming weeks and it's hot as anything there.
Why worry if (insert where you live here) only has a small number of reported cases?
What makes COVID-19 difficult to combat, is that the incubation time is anywhere between 3-14 days, depending on the individual. So if you read a news report that your country has it' 6th confirmed case, then that person could have transmitted to everyone they came into contact with in that timeframe. Some countries don't have enough kits and are only testing directly exposed individuals and many doctors have said that they have had patients they believe had the infection, but didn't meet the criteria to test. In the United States, it is theorised that there could already be half a million people already infected.
Most experts are expecting the Europe and the US to have a massive spike in cases in the coming weeks, with Australia to follow soon after.
Alright then smartass, how does one protect themselves/others from it
Washing your hands regularly is important. I make the assumption everyone does it after going to the bathroom, but before eating is very important. Try to avoid touching your face. Respiratory viruses can infect through pretty much any mucosal surface, not just droplets from someone coughing or sneezing.
Washing your hands it the best method, but hand sanitiser can be useful if you have to be out and about. Get at least 60% alcohol formulation. Any less is a waste of time and money.
Masks are useful if you are sick and want to limit spreading it, not so much for avoiding getting it. N-95 masks are great, but make sure you fit it to your face or it won't work as well. If you have any facial hair, you'll want to shave it so it fits better.
The virus can survive on surfaces for around 3 days, so keep this in mind if you are sharing a dwelling with someone who is suspected of being sick.
Even saying all of this, If the whole thing does fizzle out then that's ultimately fine. It's better than being lax about it and having substantial death. Like Take said, sensible precautions without the fear-mongering is what will help. Work from home if you are able. If you need to isolate, see if you can get a friend or family member to get you supplies without going out and exposing other people. Don't go on any non-essential travel.
This is all that comes to mind at the moment, but if anybody has any further questions, I'd be happy to answer. If you need some resources I'd be happy to provide them as well. In the mean time, I'll be back in the Zero-One episode threads complaining how Gai and ZAIA fucked up a perfectly good series.