Coronavirus - What you need to know

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

What is in the name?

CO = Stand for Corona
VI   = for Virus
D    = for Disease
19  = for 2019, The year it was first identifies

This virus was first identified in Wuhan, China. Since then, it has spread to every continent except Antarctica. According to the South Morning China Post, the first case of this pandemic was reported on Nov. 17, 2019. Later, In December WHO was alerted about several cases of pneumonia like disease in Wuhan city Hubei Province of China. On January 7,2020, the virus was identified by Chinese authorities, but this virus did not match any other known virus and was temporarily named “COVID-19”.

What causes coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are zoonotic. This means they first develop in animals before developing in humans. For the virus to pass from animal to humans, a person must come into close contact with an animal that carries the infection. Once the virus develops in people, coronaviruses can be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. This is a technical name for the wet stuff that moves through the air when you cough or sneeze. The viral material hangs out in these droplets and can be breathed into the respiratory tract (your windpipe and lungs), where the virus can then lead to an infection. The 2019 coronavirus hasn’t been definitively linked to a specific animal. Researchers believe that the virus may have been passed from bats to another animal — either snakes or pangolins — and then transmitted to humans. This transmission likely occurred in the open food market in Wuhan, China.

Signs and Symptoms of Coronaviruses

Based on what was seen with other coronaviruses, it is believed that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.

  • According to the WHO, symptoms include fever, dry cough, tiredness, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Some patients may also have a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and aches and pains or diarrhea. Some people report losing their sense of taste and/or smell.

  • In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, multiple organ failure and even death.

  • Current estimates of the incubation period - the time between infection and the onset of symptoms - range from one to 14 days. Mostly infected people show symptoms within five to six days.

  • However, infected patients can also be asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their systems.

How does the Novel Coronavirus spread from Person-to-Person?

The new coronavirus appears to be easily spread. Mostly through person-to-person contact within about a 3-feet (1 meter), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • The spread of viral particles through coughing and sneezing. These particles can land in the mouths or noses of those nearby.
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
  • Rarely, fecal contamination
  • Can the coronavirus disease spread through air?
  • Airborne spread has not been reported for COVID-19 and it is not believed to be a major driver of transmission based on available evidence

Treatment of COVID-19

According to the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the novel coronavirus infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions. People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor will recommend treatment for any symptoms or complications that develop.

What happens in hospital?

Those who get admitted to hospital are given treatment for their symptoms while their immune systems try to fight the virus off. Hospitalization also serves to isolate patients and stop the virus spreading. In severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia - an inflammation of the lungs. In those cases, breathing may need to be supported. Patients are given oxygen and in the worst cases may be put on a ventilator. In milder cases, patients struggling to maintain blood pressure can be given an intravenous drip. Fluids can also be given in cases of diarrhea.

How to prevent the spread of COVID?

The best way to prevent the spread of infection is to avoid or limit contact with people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or any respiratory infection.

The next best thing you can do is practice good hygiene and social distancing to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading.

Prevention tips

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds at a time with warm water and soap. How long is 20 seconds? About as long as it takes to sing your “ABCs.”
    Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Don’t touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth when your hands are dirty.
    Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
    Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Stay at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    Why? When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow whenever you sneeze or cough. Throw away any tissues you use right away.
    Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Clean any objects you touch a lot. Use disinfectants on objects like phones, computers, utensils, dishware, and doorknobs.
    Why? The virus may persist on surfaces for few hours. Disinfecting these things are vital in order to make sure that harmful viruses are prevented from spreading.

How to Self-Isolate?

If you suspect you have coronavirus, have been in contact with someone who has it, or have been to a place where there are a lot of cases of the virus, then the official advice is to self-isolate.

The top five methods to successfully self-isolate include:

  • Stay at home - Do not go to work or school, or other public spaces. Do not have any visitors.
  • Call ahead - If you develop symptoms such as a cough or fever, then seek advice first by phoning your local medical center or hospital. Don't just turn up as this could potentially spread the virus if you have it.
  • Separate yourself - If you live with others then you should stay in a well-ventilated bedroom with the door shut. If you share a bathroom then use it after everyone else. Don't share towels and toiletries.
  • Dispose of waste carefully - Your waste should be double-bagged.
  • Order in food - Order food online or ask your family or friends to help. Ask the person to leave food deliveries on the doorstep.

How deadly is COVID?

Based on data from 44,000 patients with this coronavirus, the WHO says:

  • 81% develop mild symptoms.
  • 14% develop severe symptoms.
  • 5% become critically ill.

The proportion of death from the disease appears low (between 1% and 2%) but the figures are unreliable. The death rate could be higher or lower depends on the cases reported but due to many unreported cases, death rate is unclear. With more than 24,000 recorded deaths, the number of fatalities from the new coronavirus has overwhelmingly surpassed the toll of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which also originated in China. Most people who catch the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 recover at home, and some need hospitalization to fight the virus. But in several patients, the disease called COVID-19 is deadly but it also varies by location as well as a person's age and underlying health conditions. Another factor affecting the deadliness of the new coronavirus is the quality of medical care. This means fewer people are likely to die if the medical system is prepared to face an influx of coronavirus patients.

Who’s at increased risk?

You’re at high risk for contracting SARS-CoV-2 if you come into contact with someone who’s carrying it, especially if you’ve been exposed to their saliva or been near them when they’ve coughed or sneezed.

Without taking proper prevention measures, you’re also at high risk if you:

  • live with someone who has contracted the virus
  • Are providing home care for someone who has contracted the virus
  • Have an intimate partner who has contracted the virus

Older people and people with certain health conditions have a higher risk for severe complications if they contract the virus. These health conditions include:

  • lung conditions, such as COPD and asthma
  • certain heart conditions
  • immune system conditions, such as HIV
  • cancer that requires treatment
  • severe obesity
  • other health conditions, if not well-controlled, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease

Current estimates from Imperial College London shows that the death rate is almost 10 times higher than average for those over 80, and much lower for those under 40. In the first big analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, deaths were at least five times more common among confirmed cases with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart or breathing problems. Moreover, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) has included smokers among those potentially most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Coronavirus - International Response

The World Health Organization coordinates global responses in these cases. As of Jan 30, 2020, the WHO Committee believed that it was still possible to interrupt virus spread, if countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk. To curb the coronavirus pandemic more than 100 countries have imposed travel restrictions and 2.5 billion people or 30 percent of the world’s population, have been directed by governments to stay at home.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak situation

According to real-time data from WHO April 2020, the latest figures on the novel coronavirus are as follows:

  • 827,419 cases confirmed globally
  • 40,777 confirmed deaths.
  • The virus has now been confirmed in 203 countries and territories
Locations with Confirmed Cases of Novel Coronavirus

According to WHO, coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 205 countries and territories around the world.

Myth Busters - Here are some of the myths surrounding the COVID-19 Virus

  • From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL CLIMATES
  • Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19.
  • To date, there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV.
  • Thermal scanners can detect fevers but cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever.
  • Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body.
  • The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.
  • There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline or eating garlic has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.
  • People of all ages can be infected

Coronavirus: How Artificial Intelligence Is Used To Fight The Pandemic

As China initiated its response to the virus, it leaned on its strong technology sector and specifically artificial intelligence (AI) to fight the pandemic while tech leaders, including Alibaba, Baidu, Huawei and more, accelerated their company's healthcare initiatives. As a result, tech startups are integrally involved with clinicians, academics, and government entities around the world to activate technology as the virus continues to spread to many other countries. Here are the ways artificial intelligence, data science, and technology are being used to manage and fight COVID-19.


The better we can track the virus, the better we can fight it. Canada based BlueDot has leveraged machine learning and natural language processing to track, recognize, and report the spread of the virus quicker than the World Health Organization and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the near and distant future, technology like this may be used to predict zoonotic infection risk to humans considering variables such as climate change and human activity. The combined analysis of personal, clinical, travel and social data including family history and lifestyle habits obtained from sources like social media would enable more accurate and precise predictions of individual risk profiles and healthcare results.

AI to help diagnose the virus

Artificial intelligence company Infervision launched a coronavirus AI solution that helps front-line healthcare workers detect and monitor the disease efficiently. Imaging departments in healthcare facilities are being taxed with the increased workload created by the virus. This solution improves CT diagnosis speed. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has also built an AI-powered diagnosis system with 96% accuracy at diagnosing the virus in seconds.

Process healthcare claims

It’s not only the clinical operations of healthcare systems that are being burdened but also the business and administrative divisions as they deal with the surge of patients. A blockchain platform offered by Ant Financial helps speed up claims processing and reduces the amount of face-to-face interaction between patients and hospital staff.

Drones deliver medical supplies

One of the safest and fastest ways to get medical supplies where they need to go during a disease outbreak is with drone delivery. Terra Drone is using its unmanned aerial vehicles to transport medical samples and quarantine material with minimal risk between Xinchang County’s disease control center and the People’s Hospital. Drones also are used to patrol public spaces, track non-compliance to quarantine mandates, and for thermal imaging.

Robots sterilize, deliver food and supplies and perform other tasks

Robots aren’t susceptible to the virus, so they are being deployed to complete many tasks such as cleaning and sterilizing and delivering food and medicine to reduce the amount of human-to-human contact. UVD robots from Blue Ocean Robotics use ultraviolet light to autonomously kill bacteria and viruses. In China, Pudu Technology deployed its robots that are typically used in the catering industry to more than 40 hospitals around the country.

Develop drugs

Google’s DeepMind division used its latest AI algorithms and its computing power to understand the proteins that might make up the virus and published the findings to help others develop treatments. BenevolentAI uses AI systems to build drugs that can fight the world’s toughest diseases and is now helping support the efforts to treat coronavirus, the first time the company focused its product on infectious diseases. Within weeks of the outbreak, it used its predictive capabilities to propose existing drugs that might be useful.

Advanced fabrics offer protection

Companies such as Israeli startup Sonovia hope to arm healthcare systems and others with face masks made from their anti-pathogen, anti-bacterial fabric that relies on metal-oxide nanoparticles.

AI to identify non-compliance or infected individuals

While certainly a controversial use of technology and AI, China’s sophisticated surveillance system used facial recognition technology and temperature detection software from SenseTime to identify people who might have a fever and be more likely to have the virus. Similar technology powers "smart helmets" used by officials in Sichuan province to identify people with fevers. The Chinese government has also developed a monitoring system called Health Code that uses big data to identify and assesses the risk of each individual based on their travel history, how much time they have spent in virus hotspots, and potential exposure to people carrying the virus. Citizens are assigned a color code (red, yellow, or green), which they can access via the popular apps WeChat or Alipay to indicate if they should be quarantined or allowed in public.


The number of COVID-19 cases has shown that healthcare systems and response measures can be overwhelmed. Canada-based Stallion.AI has leveraged its natural language processing capabilities to build a multi-lingual virtual healthcare agent that can answer questions related to COVID-19, provide reliable information and clear guidelines, recommend protection measures, check and monitor symptoms, and advise individuals whether they need hospital screening or self-isolation at their homes.

Supercomputers working on a coronavirus vaccine

The cloud computing resources and supercomputers of several major tech companies such as Tencent, DiDi, and Huawei are being used by researchers to fast-track the development of a cure or vaccine for the virus. The speed these systems can run calculations and model solutions is much faster than standard computer processing. In a global pandemic such as COVID-19, technology, artificial intelligence, and data science have become critical to helping societies effectively deal with the outbreak.

AI can help with the COVID-19 crisis - but the right human input is key

Artificial intelligence can help address coronavirus - if applied in a creative way. AI can potentially be a game changer . It is up to us to identify new and innovative ways to leverage what AI can do. Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to help us tackle the pressing issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not the technology itself, though, that will make the difference but rather the knowledge and creativity of the humans who use it.

Indeed, the COVID-19 crisis will likely expose some of the key shortfalls of AI. Machine learning, the current form of AI, works by identifying patterns in historical training data. When used wisely, AI has the potential to exceed humans not only through speed but also by detecting patterns in that training data that humans have overlooked.

COVID challenges to AI

1. As misinformation surges, coronavirus poses AI challenge

Major social media platforms are relying on artificial intelligence more than ever to moderate content as the coronavirus pandemic keeps human reviewers at home, raising new challenges for efforts to prevent misinformation online. Companies have used AI to police their networks and aid in content moderation before, but experts say that the increased reliance on automated tools during the current public health crisis poses a new test. And they warn that the stakes are as high as ever at a time when spreading authoritative information — and curbing misinformation — can save lives.

“There’s essential information about the virus that needs to get disseminated,” Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University, told The Hill. “And there’s also bogus information that’s causing extraordinary harm, and the machines are not going to be able to easily sort between those two.” The pandemic has forced companies to quickly change how they oversee content on their platforms. Fake treatments, faulty information about the spread of the pandemic and people seeking to profiteer off the public panic are abundant on platforms, although the companies have taken steps to combat it.

Caplan said the coronavirus posed a unique challenge for companies that must now rely on automated moderation with such a fluid and complex issue. “Algorithms require clear answers ... we’re starting to have more good information come, but still time will tell whether those predictions are going to bear out correctly.”

2. Humans in the loop

One of the challenges for automation is that AI is dependent on human’s input. As, Clark Freifeld, a Northeastern University computer scientist working with the global disease surveillance platform HealthMap, said AI systems have limits, and the big decisions must still be made by humans. "We use the AI system as a force multiplier, but we are committed to the concept of having humans in the loop," he said. Despite the hype, there are many ways that humans in which still surpass the capabilities of AI. The stunning advances that AI has made in recent years are not an inherent quality of the technology, but rather a testament to the humans who have been incredibly creative in how they use a tool that is mathematically and computationally complex and yet at its foundation still quite simple and limited.


AI and machine learning systems are likely to help the battle in several ways, from tracking the outbreak itself to speeding up drug testing. But Greeley said it remains challenging to apply these technologies to sectors like drug delivery where the normal testing time can be years. "There is extraordinary pressure on the industry to start using these tools even though they may not be ready for prime time," he said.


Andrew Kress, CEO of the health technology firm HealthVerity said, it remains challenging to collect medical data for disease outbreaks while complying with patient privacy. It's possible to detect trends with signals such as pharmacy visits and sales of certain medications or even online searches, Kress said, but aggregating that has privacy implications.

Demand for AI Talent in Healthcare To Go Up

The role of AI and big data in treating global pandemics and other healthcare challenges is only set to grow. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that demand for professionals with AI skills has more than doubled over the past three years. Professionals working in healthcare technologies, getting education on the applications of AI in healthcare and building the right skillsets will prove to be crucial. As AI has quickly become mainstream, healthcare is certainly an area where it will play a big role in keeping us safer and healthier.

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