“There is increasing evidence through comparisons of what’s happening in different countries and in different states, in terms of mask usage and mandates, that masks help slow transmission of COVID-19. Of course, it would be ideal if everyone had access to high-quality masks, but masks do not have to be 100% effective to reduce one’s exposure to virus. At this point, any reduction helps. I think it is becoming clear that the benefits to wearing face coverings outweigh any downsides.”
— Linsey Marr, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
If you haven’t heard already, the incidence of COVID-19 is now increasing across the globe increasing the likelihood of it being declared a pandemic (a disease that affects people worldwide i.e. in multiple continents).
Action plans and predictions have been flying around over the past week due to the worsening spread of the virus in Iran, South Korea and Italy. The UK has seen its cases grow and the US reported its first virus-related death over the weekend.
Coronavirus is the scientific name for a group of viruses that cause things like common colds and more serious illnesses like SARS (severe acute respiratory symptom). They can be transmitted from humans to other humans or from animals to humans.
Why is it in the news today?
The coronavirus we’ve been hearing about is a new strain of the virus that nobody had come across before it struck patients in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China last year. It has now been named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019) and as of yet, there is no vaccine. It is a serious issue now because of the rate at which it is spreading and the fact that it can be fatal.
As of writing there has been 79,000 reported cases and over 2400 deaths (you can keep up to date with the current figures here.