CoronaVirus Causes Global Health Scare: Students fight against spread of virus by practicing good hygiene


Photo Courtesy of CDC

The Coronavirus is confirmed to be present in China, Hong Kong, U.S.A, Japan, Spain, England, Vietnam, Russia, France, Australia, India, Italy, Canada, and more as of February 7.

Blake Beashore, Web Editor

Due to a rapidly spreading virus stemming from China, the World Health Organization has declared a Global Health Emergency. This virus is called the Coronavirus.

The death toll reached 565 on Feb. 6. according to CBS News. The number of infections was over 28,000.

The Coronavirus is a physically large virus that spreads through direct and indirect contact. Once infected, the virus can cause fever, dry cough, muscle pain and fatigue. After about a week, symptoms worsen and many infected persons seek medical care.

Those infected may develop hypoxemia, which is an abnormally low concentration of oxygen in the blood, leading to the need for oxygen therapy. The virus causes those infected to develop pneumonia and in some cases acute respiratory distress syndrome.

The virus is similar to the flu in many aspects.

“It can cause respiratory distress, so what causes death is respiratory failure at the end of it, similar to the flu, but it is faster acting and does more harm quicker,” said science teacher and former chemist Shawna John.

The Coronavirus is from the same family of viruses as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) that we have already seen but it has mutated to become more virulent.

“Some viruses can mutate and adapt and cause more harm later,” John said. “That’s why you get a different flu shot pretty much every time.”

As the virus mutated and became more dangerous, the World Health Organization declared a Global Health Emergency, but junior Devin Rice isn’t panicking.

“It’s a new strain of a coronavirus so it’s nothing crazy, and it’s among the same family of viruses as SARS and MERS.” Rice said. “It’s just a new strain that they haven’t seen before which is why everyone’s freaking out. It’s just another respiratory infection like pneumonia”

Rice believes it shouldn’t be hard to protect yourself from the virus.

“People should actually read what it is before they start losing their minds over it, and people just need to follow basic hygiene you follow during flu season like washing your hands and stuff,” Rice said.

Others are taking more extensive precautions, especially when it comes to those with weakened immune systems.

“I don’t really fear the virus, but I’m fearful of it reaching elderly people and those who are already ill,” said junior Olivia Sourivong.

Sourivong agrees with Rice about hygiene, but is taking extra steps to protect herself.

“People should stay clean and make sure to wash their hands, but what I’m also doing is staying away from big crowds and not going out,” Sourivong said.

Sourivong hopes that others stay informed on how to protect themselves.

“People should take caution when they are going out and be sure to keep up with the latest news about the virus so they can know where it is present and how to avoid it,” Sourivong said.

School nurse Meghan Leduc believes what makes the Coronavirus a threat is the unknown surrounding it.

“I think what’s so scary about the coronavirus is that, because it’s a new virus to human beings, we don’t know how it’s going to behave once inside our bodies or what the mode of infection is between hosts,” Leduc said.

Viruses like this one are unpredictable and hard to understand.

“Viruses are complicated,” Leduc said. “Simply put, they infect your body by using a multi-step process to ‘hijack’ a host cell’s genetic code and then cut, paste and replicate itself within the host, destroying the cells along the way.  They can’t reproduce without a host since they are not living organisms.”

Leduc believes that students should be able to keep themselves healthy.

“In order to protect themselves from these types of illnesses, students should practice good personal hygiene, get plenty of sleep, and focus on good nutrition,” Leduc said. “Don’t share drinks and encourage friends and family to stay home when they are sick.”