In December 2019, an increasing number of patients with respiratory infections were diagnosed in Wuhan, China. These infections were due to a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. This is an encapsulated virus that belongs to the Coronaviridae family. Coronaviruses get their name due to their shape. After all, when scientists look at the virus particles under an electron microscope, they appear to be surrounded by a “crown” (corona in Latin). The disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Within a couple of months, this virus sparked a pandemic.
SARS-CoV-2 affects, among other things, the airways. A healthy person can become infected when their own mucous membranes are exposed to infectious droplets produced by a person infected with SARS-CoV-2 when coughing or sneezing. It is also possible to contract the virus by coming into contact with infected persons or surfaces and by touching your own mouth, nose or eyes (the mucous membranes) afterwards. In aerosols, the virus can survive for up to 3 hours, allowing airborne transmission. The virus can survive on surfaces for several hours to days. In fact, a recent study showed that the coronavirus can survive up to 28 days in ideal conditions on non-porous surfaces. This underlines the importance of good hand hygiene and good disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.
The course of a SARS-CoV-2 infection is highly individual. In the majority of infected individuals, the patient will show only mild symptoms. these often include fever, dry cough, sore throat and fatigue.
However, the virus can also cause respiratory problems and even result in the patient’s death. Although everyone has an equal chance of getting infected, the course of the disease is often more severe with older and / or weakened people. The average incubation period is 5 to 6 days.
There are several tips to protect yourself from COVID-19: