Your Coronavirus Questions Answered

Short Wave


So our first question comes from Amanda in Chicago. My question is how does the corona virus spread and can I catch it from simply being the same public spaces someone. For example airport. We got a lot of questions. About how the corona virus spreads so talk taping. I talked to Dr Lynn Chen. She has up the Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge Massachusetts and she says it mostly spreads person to person through droplets. Let's and Snot so for example of somebody is coughing sneezing and the lands on your face or near you or Liana surface. Where are you then touch? And then some help bring the droplet close to her face nose and mouth. That's how it can spread. It seems to be you less contagious than the flu. Or measles which you can literally just like breathe out and it hangs around in the air and then somebody else breathes it in Yep so if outside or even inside at a place like the airport. You don't have to be awkward about it. You don't glare people for sneezing but just try and keep some space between you and someone who looks sick she says the CDC puts that distance at about six feet away and as always good hand. Washing is really really key. after touching anything being before touching the phase before touching food. You gotTa wash those pause paying. Yeah Mattie it's a germ and like most germs. You can kill it or you can wash it off with soap and water but if you absolutely don't have access to a sink then you can arm yourself with some alcohol wipes and some strong hand sanitizer but what about the people that can spread read it without seeming sick or even knowing they're sick themselves so there's been some debate around this as symtomatic transmission. It's the idea that people could be walking around. I'm feeling totally fine. And still giving it to other people which is kind of a scary thought and last week there is a paper and the New England Journal of Medicine. It was a bad case in Germany. Where or woman who didn't seem sick still gave the virus? Her Co workers but the problem was that the authors didn't actually talk to the woman right and win other people did talk to her. It turns out that she actually was feeling sick. She just took some medicine and went to work. Yeah so it's not actually clear yet whether a symptomatic transmission is or isn't happening but but even if it is happening health officials say that it's really not a big driver in this outbreak. And they're actually much more concerned about people who really are a little bit sick but are still going to school unto work right and then. There's the question of masks this one came from. Alex in Hong Kong are surgical masks or and ninety. Five masks can help us Out at all. Yeah and I would say if you're going to be that person who goes to work sick and I am not naming. Any names would probably help. If you wore a mask. Logic would suggest that it probably does decrease some spread of germs from somebody who actually is ill. That's Stockton Mary. Beth sexton At emory university. So if you yourself are sick mask maybe a good idea right and so in hospitals at least wearing a mask helps catch sputum and Snot and keep it from spreading and like Alex said. There are two types of masks right. Yeah let's right. Mattie that is the end ninety five respirator mask ask which fits tight to your face and it blocks. Most airborne particles among their surgical masks. Are these gauzy rectangular pieces of cloth or paper and you loop them around your ears. Here's and cover your nose and mouth okay. So those end ninety five respirator masks kind of the stiff ones. That have kind of like little half dome. They're recommended for hospital settings but but not for the general public yeah. They're said to be pretty uncomfortable and they might make it hard to breathe and for people who want to prevent themselves from getting sick masks might not do a whole lot. Sexton says it depends on the setting like walking around outdoors with a mask isn't really helpful. It's really going to be an enclosed spaces with people who are contagious that you have the most risk of transmission and so those are probably the situation where you might see some benefit from wearing the mask but again. I think that the emphasis officially on the mask could even be counterproductive because we really need people to wash their hands and to not expose other people if they're symptomatic so so like people might put on a mask and be like Oh. I'm protected and give you kind of a false sense of security. Yeah right in a bunch of people who really aren't used to wearing them they might be touching their faces a lot or they may keep wearing the same mask over and over and that could actually do more harm than good. Another thing that we got questions about a lot is this thing called an are not. It's a number. It's super complicated and it's something that people get wrong. All the time and Christine Garzke from Columbus Ohio O.. H. I hi L.. She asked us about it. Do we know what the are not of this. Current Corona virus is. Okay here we go you ready. Think so so so are not. Is the number of people one sick person could infect on average and that's in a population that's totally susceptible that's important so a group of people in which nobody's vaccinated or has gotten the virus yet. You can kind of think about it as contagious nece but a little more complicated. How so lots of things go into into this intense calculation slash mathematical model? That spits out this number stuff like how long a person's contagious. How likely am I to pass the virus to you do if I'm sick and we've made what's called effective contact with each other right and it's not actually necessarily a constant exactly in multiple ways as we learn more and more about the biology the virus the number will change and it also changes based on the population? You're talking about so factors like the way People Act Act. How many people come in contact with each other? In that population think super congested city versus a rural population. Okay Mattie but back to Christine's original class who what is the actual number fine okay. It's actually a range. Here's Marina van Kerckhove Atop World Health the organization official estimates the reproduction number range from one point four to four point nine so above one where we see human to human transmission but again these estimates maybe refined as more data becomes available. Okay so that actually sounds kind of bad and lake one person getting five. More people sick is a lot of people. Yeah Yeah I hear you but the first thing to keep in mind is that this number was calculated based on the population in China. Right so not the states and again we need to learn a lot more To feel super confident in that range or that number in the final note. Hi are not doesn't mean that. A virus super deadly. It also doesn't talk about like how fast it will spread. It's not a rate calculation. And no doubt this is a cause for concern but I don't think it's really a cause for panic at least not for us here in the. US US okay. So keep calm yes a little bit for now and so are not. Let's leave that right there by itself. Okay Okay Mattie I've left it all right last ask question yell at a lot of people asking about how panic shabby. Why is the media so all over this? Yes we did. Here's one from David Kessler Antler. Why is the corona virus being reported on so much? I do not intend to be callous or obtuse. But I'm curious what element is here. That makes this virus so alarming coming as compared to Cardiff's the US deaths by gun or even our current flu epidemic. That has taken so many more lives. Yeah I think this is actually a pretty great question like one that I actually think about a lot as a human scientist and journalist what do you feel about paying so I think I think it's a fair point that there's a lot aww breathless coverage going on right now about the corona virus and I know that we're contributing to we've been talking about the current virus a lot all the time and it's everywhere and so that it might give people a feeling that we might be dying of it at any given moment sure but the fact is that in the United States the actually really low right and I think it depends on who you are. So if you're a person in China this probably doesn't feel like too much coverage but in the US it could seem overkill. Yeah and something else I think we you need to be aware of in the. US pass is not to vilify the people who are the victims of the virus when he talked about the markets where the viruses thought to have come from and what people eat in China. Yeah I mean we've even talked about that stuff on the show and I feel like we could do better but in the defense of this abundant media coverage. Here's the thing we don't. I don't actually know that much about this virus in that is scary and so I think from a public health perspective. There's a good idea that we should take this extremely seriously really that we should have a strong position. So that we can stamp it out because there are legitimate fears about this getting a foothold and becoming. You know like a new flu Lou. That's always around to deal with over and over again and part of the way you contain potentially global threat like this is to have a lot out of coverage to hear from experts and to share information as much as you can

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