Super Spreaders and the Challenges of Containing Coronavirus

  • Over 40 percent of new infections take place in hospitals.
  • The virus can survive on surfaces for up to nine days.
  • Many people with the virus do not exhibit typical symptoms at the beginning.

Super spreaders have historically had a huge impact on the spread of diseases, and in today’s case, Coronavirus. In 2015, more than 80 people in South Korea contracted the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) during an event from just one person. More recently, scientists documented a super spreader who infected at least ten other people.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

A Few Recent Cases

He contracted the virus while attending a conference in Singapore and unknowingly transmitted it to eleven other people. He thereafter visited Singapore before returning to the U.K. with full symptoms.

And in another unique case in Hong Kong, eight family members became infected after one of them caught the virus. They had apparently shared a barbecue meal, which led to the new infections. The cases were only confirmed last weekend.

Lack of Symptoms Allows the Virus to Spread Unnoticed

People who have contracted the virus do not necessarily have the widely-reported cold or flu symptoms during the initial stages of the ailment. They exhibit rather atypical symptoms, such as abdominal pain or nausea, which is why the ailment is often easily overlooked.

The most comprehensive study of coronavirus patients has been documented by Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital, which has observed 138 sufferers at the facility while tracing sources of the malady.

The study shows that over 40 percent of new infections take place in hospitals. In a recent report, doctors described a patient who appeared at a clinic with abdominal pain and was referred to surgery. The man infected at least ten hospital staff. In many patients, typical symptoms only begin to appear after the first week.

Testing and Quarantine Hurdles

Coronaviruses are species of virus belonging to the subfamily Coronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae, in the order Nidovirales. There are seven known strains of human coronaviruses, including Wuhan Coronavirus.

One critical question in the fight against the Coronavirus scourge is whether current quarantine measures are effective. There are already apparent hurdles to be overcome, especially when it comes to testing. It is still difficult to identify every case immediately.

Such is the case of one American who tested positive for the virus last Monday. The man had been flown out of China with a group of about 170 U.S. citizens who are now in quarantine at a San Diego naval base. The first test came back negative. The infected person was only isolated after the second test, which came back positive.

Coronavirus Survival Duration on Surfaces is a Challenge

Pathogens that can survive on surfaces for a long time are particularly contagious and especially difficult to get rid of in public spaces. Experts have concluded that Coronavirus remains stable on handles, doorbells, and other objects for up to nine days. Such surfaces can, however, be disinfected using agents such as ethanol, sodium hypochlorite, and hydrogen peroxide.

That said, scientists are just beginning to understand how the pathogen affects the human body. Many of the current findings are preliminary and will have to be confirmed, supplemented, and corrected over time.

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Samuel Gush. W

Samuel Waweru is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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