The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, keeps the whole world on edge. Latin America became the main focus of the outbreak in May , which reached Europe in March and led the continent to close borders and confine millions of citizens. The pandemic originated in China at the end of 2019, but the American continent has been the next victim due to the rapid expansion of infections in the United States. So far more than 2.7 million people have died and more than 123 million cases have been confirmed worldwide. [What is a million dead? Comparison with other catastrophes and pandemics ].
China, with 4,636 deaths and more than 90,000 infected people , has managed to contain the virus nine months after the start of the crisis and is no longer the country with the highest number of infections, a position held by the United States , which exceeds 29.8 million positive cases. They are followed by India, with 11.6 million; Brazil , which exceeds 11.9 million; and the United Kingdom and Russia, with more than four million infections.
In terms of deaths, the United States also leads the statistics with more than 542,000 deaths , followed by Brazil, with more than 294,000. Mexico exceeds 198,000, replacing India in third place, which totals more than 159,000. For its part, the United Kingdom registers more than 126,000 deaths, followed by Italy with 104,000 and France and Russia, with more than 90,000. Germany 74,000, Spain 72,000, and Iran and Colombia, 60,000.
The focus was thought to be on a seafood market in the city of Wuhan , capital of Hubei province, but researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have ruled it out. They do conclude that the virus spread through this place and that it arose in some type of bat , but they are not clear if it later mutated into some other animal before passing to humans.
The World Health Organization (WHO) , a year later, has determined that its origin is animal , although the expedition sent to China still does not have conclusive evidence that the virus mutated from bats or pangolins , which are still potential candidates.
What degree of mortality does it have?
According to the latest data, the fatality rate of the new coronavirus among those infected stands at 4.5%.
However, the researchers consider that it is still too early to accurately calculate its fatality, in part because mild cases are not diagnosed and are not recorded, in addition to the fact that the disease is sometimes asymptomatic. This would reduce the number significantly.
How does it spread?
The virus spreads mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes . These droplets can reach the mouth or nose of people nearby and possibly enter the lungs when they breathe.
Drops with the virus can also be deposited on different surfaces and objects , which when touched can be incorporated into the hands, which is potentially infectious if the person then touches his mouth, nose and possibly eyes with that same hand.
The World Health Organization warns that "many people who contract the disease have only mild symptoms." This, he says, "is particularly true in the early stages of the disease" and, "therefore, it is possible to catch it from someone who, for example, only has a mild cough and does not feel sick ."
Likewise, once the disease is over , the virus excretion phase begins , the average duration of which is 20 days. Recently published work suggests that prolonged excretion indicates that patients may still be able to spread SARS-CoV2 at this stage . In addition, the coronavirus was detectable until the end in the deceased people.
Is it very contagious?
It seems that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted quite easily. At the moment, the WHO estimates that the contagion rate (R0) of the virus is from 1.4 to 2.5 , although other estimates speak of a range between 2 and 3. This means that each infected person can in turn infect between 2 and 3 people. To control an epidemic, R0 needs to decrease below 1.