Theresa Stratford, managing editor of HealthLinks Magazine sat down with Dr. Robert Ball, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases at MUSC Health to talk about the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Below is a partial summarized transcription of the video. Watch the entire video for more!
Who should be the most worried/concerned? What are the risk factors involved?
Dr. Ball said to be concerned and prepared, not worried. Everyone should be concerned because this is now officially a global pandemic, its widespread in many communities and its here in South Carolina. Some in clusters and some not, with sporadic cases here and there which will only increase. Be concerned and prepared with personal hygiene items, and stock up on supplies such as canned goods and non-perishables in case you come in contact with someone and have to be isolated at home for 2 weeks.
How is it spreading?
While washing your hands and using hand sanitizer are preventive measures, COVID-19 is being spread through the air. For example, if I were coughing and didn’t cover my cough properly (which means covering your cough with the inner elbow since you never, ever cover a cough with your hands) you could be exposed. 6 feet is thought to be the distance these large respiratory droplets travel, but it could be more than that because when you cough you create a cough cloud and it may go 10 feet or 12 feet.
How about travel and spring breaks during the next month or two?
Many schools from high schools to colleges have students going on spring break soon and if those spring breaks are to countries like Italy – well that’s off because Italy has now completely closed its borders, and this morning Denmark did the same thing. You will find this cascade effect, country after country closing its borders. Look at what our president announced last night, no more incoming flights from Europe. The entire continent of Europe for the next 30 days starting this Friday night (March 13, 2020). That will cause incredible personal and economic grief, and it means a lot of kids staying home.
Why aren’t children being affected by COVID-19?
They are, children are. The rate of transmission from one infected person to another is the same regardless of the age of the exposed person. The young ones can catch it just like the old ones. The infectivity rate of 1 infected person can infect 2 to 3 to 3½ others, which is 3.5. That’s an important number which we’ll come back to. That’s much, much higher than influenza and other conditions but nearly as high as whooping cough or measles or chicken pox, which are much, much higher. They have a much higher infectivity rate. But for this virus one infected person who coughs can infect 2 to 3 others, maybe 4. As far as children having the same effects from COVID-19 as older people, that depends on how you define effects. If you define effects as getting ill, it’s the same as middle age and old. If you define effects as complications that’s different, because older people have more complications. So the older you are, if you catch this infection, the more likely you are to have a complication, especially if you have an underlying condition such as heart disease or underlying lung disease, if you are a smoker etc and so many people in China smoke hence their high case rate of hospitalization, why they had to build these crash hospitals quickly and so forth. And the risk of complications, including ending up in the ICU, ending up on a ventilator and eventually dying increases with age, significantly. 14% of people over 85 will end up in the hospital in the ICU.
Watch the entire video for much more about COVID-19!