Containing A Deadly Virus Outbreak


Iveth Vanegas and Ingrid Vanegas, Reporters

A recent outbreak of a virus, which originated in China, known as the Coronavirus has caused commotion as Americans worry that it will soon carry over to the United States. The virus outbreak began to spread on Dec. 31, 2019, and since then has expanded across China, taking over 1,000 lives in the mainland.

An article by Healthline, an American website and provider of health information, states that viruses are types of pathogens. Pathogens are organisms that cause a disease and come in many forms like viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

“Many viruses are pathogens, disease causing,” former microbiologist Nancy Stewart said. “It’s a small one-celled organism that must have a living host cell to replicate, so it has to live within a living cell to replicate.”

According to Aljazeera, an English-language news channel, the Coronavirus is spread by being in close proximity to an infected person and inhaling or touching droplets generated when they cough or sneeze. The symptoms of the virus include respiratory issues like shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, fever and cough. In more severe cases, symptoms include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

“Coughing and sneezing can actually spread up to 6 feet,” Nurse Dawn Sexton said. “If you know someone sick and they’re not coughing into their elbow, ask them to please do so, so that you don’t get it.”

To prevent catching viruses, it’s crucial to take precautions when interacting with people and how to get rid of germs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that simply washing hands could reduce the risk of diseases up to 50 percent. The CDC also reports that researchers in London found that routinely washing hands would prevent up to 1 million deaths a year.

“The main important thing about any virus outbreak is good hand washing,” Sexton said. “That is the most important thing and the most effective way to prevent viruses from spreading.”

An article by the CDC recommends using standard precautions, such as surface disinfection and taking flu antivirals if prescribed during flu and respiratory disease season.

“You use personal protective equipment, and that’s the way you’re careful about not spreading a virus,” Stewart said. “That’s how we keep ourselves safe from a virus because it could be a bacteria, anything could be a pathogen.”

As fear of the outbreak spreads, there is a panic-driven demand for face masks. Marketwatch, a financial information website, reports that retailer store Taobao has sales upward of 80 million masks a day. However, Stewart says that wearing just any mask is ineffective and recommends using a N-95 mask, which can be found at Home Depot.

“They need one of these HEPA filter masks, and they need the masks that are at least 95 in, which means 95% of viruses will not pass through,” Stewart said. “And you have to have it fitted. It has to be a perfect fit around your face. You can’t just wear a mask. That does no good.”

During a virus outbreak, it’s essential for schools to follow certain protocols to prevent it from spreading. These protocols are set in place to reduce the amount of infections. According to SafeSpace, an American business company that sells germ disinfectants, on average students come in contact with about 152,300 germs while at school.

“Our protocols are if you’re running fever or you’re sick, stay at home, so you don’t spread it,” Sexton said. “ If you do come to school and you come to the clinic and you’re running fever, then we send you home. You’re sent home for two days, that day and the following day, or until you’re fever free for 24 hours without using any medication to reduce that fever.”

Besides these direct protocols, schools also undergo an Electrostatic spray system. According to Multi-Clean, a producer of commercial cleaning chemicals and products, this spray system works through spraying disinfectant droplets so that they attract to surfaces and disinfect them in order to reduce the transmission of viruses and diseases.

“We have a spray system that they bring into the schools that is supposed to kill a lot of the viruses, and they spread that throughout the whole school,” Sexton said.

Stewart stresses the importance of receiving information about the virus from credible sources, such as the CDC.

“If you wanna look up something, always go to CDC, all the hospitals have to follow CDC rules,” Stewart said. “Don’t just read anything you read on the internet, go to the top people and get it like it is. Always use CDC as a first source.”

Back in Hong Kong, as officials refuse to seal the land border, protest art has surfaced in response to people’s anger. The Washington Post, states that the strike is led by medical workers demanding a full-border closure and greater anti-virus protections. Junior Paige Muñiz, understands the need for protest art.

“It’s the people’s right to protest against their government, because how else will change be made?” Muñiz said.

The message protesters are attempting to convey through art and propaganda has not gone unnoticed. TIME, an American weekly news magazine, reports that a large number of the artwork has been posted to Telegram, a messaging app used by protestors, and is then spread by the channel’s 90,000 subscribers. As the epidemic of the Coronavirus grows and takes more lives, people will continue to speak through their art.

“I think art is an effective way to give an opinion or give a statement without using words and in my view it’s far more powerful way to fully convey what you want to say,” Muñiz said. “A powerful piece is all that is needed. Without it, it (protest attempts) can be passed off as a sad attempt to gain attention.”