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Corona Crisis 2020-02-14 오후 9:04:00

The first case of novel coronavirus(also known as 2019-nCoV) was reported on the 31st of December, 2019. It originated from a live animal market at Wuhan, China where seafood and poultry were sold.

The coronavirus is not a new type of virus. The word ‘Coronavirus’ indicates a category of viruses which have small, protruding spikes(antigens) on their membranes. These spikes are said to resemble the shape of the sun's corona, a crown. A coronavirus typically causes respiratory problems in humans.

The patients who contracted the 2019-nCoV displayed symptoms of fever, dry coughing, fatigue, and shortness of breath, which eventually led to respiratory failure and pneumonia. But the latest strain of the virus appears to exhibit no external symptoms whilst inside the human body for the first week or two, so it is hard to immediately recognize if one is infected or not.

As the 2019 n-CoV is transferred from person to person via droplet molecules(saliva) that are carried through in the air, infection can be prevented by wearing a mask when talking with others. There are many different types of masks, but type KF 80 is recommended. As the model number increases from 80, the filtering system is much better. Washing hands before and after eating or touching public surfaces is also vital to prevent contraction of the virus. Hands must be washed with soap under running water for at least thirty seconds.

Currently, there are lots of common misconceptions about the virus. Here is a list:
1. Receiving mail from China is unsafe.
This is not true; the WHO has declared that the novel coronavirus does not survive for long periods of time on surfaces. Still, people should always wash their hands after touching outside surfaces.

2. Once a person contracts the coronavirus, he/she is likely to die.
The fatality rate of the novel coronavirus is known to be around 2%. Also, older people with health problems other than the coronavirus as well as people who have weak immune systems have been found to be more susceptible to the virus, so death is not an immediate concern for young and healthy people. However, it is still too early a stage for researchers to conclude the fatality rate, so everyone should remain vigilant in domestic hygiene.

3. Antibiotics will kill the coronavirus.
This is also wrong. Antibiotics only kill bacteria; viruses are not bacteria. A virus can only be killed by an antibody, which is a type of cell produced by white blood cells. Antibodies are formed when the immune system recognizes the antigens of the virus as a foreign substance, and deploys plasma cells to produce antibodies which are then designed to kill that specific type of virus. Currently, none of the 2019 n-CoV patients have recovered fully, so there are no antibodies that can be made into vaccines.

Much is still unknown about the novel coronavirus; what we do know is that it spreads quickly through the air and human contact. Most importantly, it has not only infected hundreds of people in China, but has also spread across multiple nations in Asia. Hand-washing and wearing masks are strongly recommended by governments and the WHO.

There have been regrettable incidents in Korea such as the circulation of fake news about the coronavirus and sudden increase in mask prices due to the overconsumption of illegal buyers. This fear-mongering can be stopped only when governmental measures are taken to punish those who try to cause panic in society. Governments should notify their citizens with correct and proven information about the virus as soon as they receive them. As the saying goes, fear is worse than any virus.

North London Collegiate School Jeju
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