The COVID-19 pandemic
October 17, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic is the current pandemic caused by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. An outbreak of the virus was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization on January 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11. As of October 10, 2021, over 237.7 million cases of the disease were registered worldwide; more than 4.8 million deaths have been confirmed, making the COVID-19 pandemic one of the deadliest in history. Basically, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted by close contact, most often through small droplets formed when coughing, sneezing and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or surface rather than travel long distances through the air. Transmission can also occur through smaller droplets that are able to remain suspended in the air for longer periods of time. Less commonly, infection is possible after touching a contaminated surface, and then to the face. An infected person is most contagious during the first three days after symptom onset, although spread is possible before symptoms appear and through people who do not show symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste, and anosmia (loss of smell), possibly with ear congestion. Complications can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and pneumonia (pneumonia). The incubation period, that is, the length of time from the moment of infection to the onset of symptoms, is usually about 5 days, but can vary from 2 to 14 days. Since there are no antiviral drugs to treat the disease, the primary treatment is symptomatic therapy (elimination of individual symptoms). Since the end of 2020, there have been several COVID-19 vaccines, and a number of countries have begun mass vaccination against COVID-19. Preventive measures include hand washing, covering your mouth and nose with an elbow when coughing or sneezing, maintaining distance from other people (social distancing), wearing a protective mask in general.