10 Facts that China have shared with the World about Coronavirus so far

The Chinese government have shared a document that explains what first happened when coronavirus or COVID-19 was discovered as a rapidly transmittable disease back in December 2019. They shared the lessons they learned and compared the disease to two outbreaks of virus that have happened within living memory: SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2002-3 and MERS in 2015. All three diseases share characteristics, and it may surprise you to know that SARS has mutated to a second strain and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome) still isn’t considered contained.

Who am I to share these facts? I am not medically trained, but I have been reading and writing about medical studies for 5 years for a blog client. When you write regularly on a subject, you learn the language and look out for the studies that show the bigger picture. This disease has already affected most of the countries of the world on a huge scale and it has the potential to disrupt normal life for some time. I offer this, in the hope that someone who needs to, will read and understand why governments are taking the measures they are.

The facts

COVID-19 is very easily passed on from human to human through close contact. In the early days of the disease, the scientists noticed lots clusters of the disease in certain towns – between 2-4 cases each. These were caused by members of one household passing the disease on to each other.

The disease spread from one city to a whole country (China) in just 30 days.

It takes 5 days on average for an infected person to show the symptoms. This can give several days where the person is infectious but shows no symptoms, thus spreading the disease further. Some people have shown symptoms in as little as 2 days or as many as 14 days. Keeping away from other people when you think you may have been infected is a measure that could mean the disease is not passed by you. Current recommendations suggest standing 2m away from the next person.

Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly will not completely stop you from getting the disease, but it is an effective way to destroy the virus. The soap and water penetrate the water barrier around the virus and renders it inactive. The problem is, if you have been exposed to the virus, you might well have already inhaled it.

Not touching any part of your face when you are out and about is one of the best ways to prevent coronavirus infection. The illness could enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth.

The symptoms

The symptoms include a dry constant cough, a fever of over 37.5 and often includes difficulty breathing. That last symptom could get worse as the infection moves down into your lower respiratory system (lungs) and can cause pneumonia. Other symptoms that have been observed, but less often include a sore throat, headache, fatigue and some digestive issues.

You need medical attention quickly if your breathing becomes laboured, you feel a persistent pain or pressure in the chest, sudden lethargy or confusion, bluish fact or lips, revealing a lack of oxygen or if you are struggling to get going or get up.

The disease has been noted for making older people very ill. 87% of cases are people aged 30-79. Most 30 year olds would not consider themselves old, but it is the way the illness was reported in China.

People who have autoimmune disorders, diabetes, heart conditions etc are at risk and should stay well away from other people as a precaution even if they do not. A good measure is if you are  offered a flu jab every year, then you should take care not to catch the disease.

81% of the cases in China, had a mild form of the disease, 14% had a severe form of the disease and 5% a critical form. The death rate is 2.3%, which may seem low, but given the extremely contagious nature of the disease, with high numbers contracting it, the amount of people dying from the disease could rise hugely if unchecked.

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK

Share

Breakfast, not late night snacks, hold the key to managing your weight

Do you eat breakfast? Or do you eat late at night? When you eat your food could be the key to enabling you to manage your weight more effectively.

A team of scientists conducted a study to see if the timing of meals mattered when people were trying to manage their weight. They wrote about their study as an open access article in PLOS Biology journal. The scientists, from Vanderbilt University, USA,  assembled a group of people to test their theory.

The participants were middle-aged and older people,, who had a variety of measured BMI (body mass index), who had their metabolism monitored in a whole-room respiratory chamber over two sessions, each 56 hours long. The study was designed as a random crossover experimental study. The scientists made sure that lunch and dinner were offered at the same times: 12.30 and 17.45pm, but made the timing of the third meal different. In one of the sessions, the third meal was breakfast, offered at 8am, while in the other, the meal was given as an evening snack at 10pm. The amount of time between meals overnight, was the same length and the type of food eaten was the same. The subjects also had the same activity levels in both groups.

All participants experienced both sessions. They were asked to monitor and record their sleeping habits the week before the experiment. They were assessed by a doctor before going into the chamber. The room had a set rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide flowing through it to enable the participants’ respiratory rates to be measured. They had lights on at 7am and lights off at 11pm.

The scientists found that the group that ate the late night snack burned less fat overnight than the group who had eaten the meal as breakfast. The respiratory rates between the two groups were also different. The scientists concluded that our biological clock works better when we eat in the morning rather than when we eat late at night. Eating late could delay our metabolism and cause the nutrients from the food to be stored rather than burned.

So the next time you reach for that late night snack, you might want to hold off until breakfast the next day!

I write medical blogs for one of my clients. I like to include interesting studies here, particularly if they have relevance for the freelance life.

Do you prefer breakfast or supper? The answer may have an effect on your metabolic rate.

Johnson, C.H., et al., Eating breakfast and avoiding late-evening snacking sustains liquid oxidation, PLOS Biology, February 2020

Share