Coronavirus – how bad is it, really?

Coronavirus – how bad is it, really?

Everywhere you look (news-wise) there is a new article about someone else contracting coronavirus. But how bad is it, really? Is it just another type of flu? Should you be worried? Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

Coronavirus causing uproar

Something to remember is that coronavirus does not refer to a single virus, but to a group of viruses. This group of viruses can cause something as non-threatening as the common cold, to something more severe like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The coronavirus you’ve been hearing about in the news is COVID-19, a novel coronavirus – one that has not been found in humans before.

The symptoms of coronavirus are much like those of the flu: fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include muscle pain, confusion, headache and a sore throat. According to data from WHO, CDC, ECDC, NHC and DXY, so far (at the time of writing) 89.197 people have contracted COVID-19 and 3.048 in total have died. 45.155 have recovered from the virus.

In Europe, the biggest outbreak has taken place in Italy, with 1.694 confirmed infections and 34 deaths. Many of the people in the Netherlands with coronavirus had recently travelled to northern Italy.

Remember, not everyone gets the flu

According to an article on the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) website, one of the reasons why COVID-19 is such a threat is its case fatality risk which lies around 1 percent, according to the data so far. To give you a little idea of how high or low this percentage is, the fatality risk of the flu is around 0,1 percent.

The fatality risk percentage for coronavirus is not yet set in stone and could still decrease. Many of those infected only experience mild symptoms like a cough or snotty nose. What’s also important to keep in mind is that not everyone is going to get it, just like not everyone gets the flu.

Are you at risk?

Those the most at risk are the elderly and people who already have pre-existing medical conditions compromising their immune systems. Of course, anyone can catch the virus, but the aforementioned groups have the highest chance of becoming ill from it.

To reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19, practise good hygiene. This means washing your hands regularly with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub, staying away from people who are coughing or sneezing (at least one metre away) and sneezing or coughing into a tissue or your bent elbow – to cover your nose and mouth. You should also avoid touching your or another person’s eyes, nose and mouth.

If you become ill and run a fever, or experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, get in touch with your doctor. They will be able to give you advice on how to proceed and whether you need to be tested for coronavirus. It's hard not to in these times, but try not to panic!

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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