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COVID-19 Deadlier Than SARS, Can Reinfect, Goes Undetected For Longer, Plus More New Vital Information

Now more than ever is the time to stay vigilant and safe!

The Covid-19 outbreak is still not slowing down, with more than 80,300 total infected and 2,707 deaths as of writing. In the Philippines, however, thanks to the many precautionary measures implemented, no new cases have surfaced after the first death and the last two people recovered.

But while the Philippines has been pretty stable, more new information resurfaced all over Asia about the virus. To stay vigilant and informed, here are all the new updates you need to know about the Covid-19.

Image from George Calvelo/ABS-CBN News

South Korea raised to highest alert level after more than 100 Covid-19 cases surface

Over the last week, South Korea shot up as the largest national outside China that’s infected by Covid-19. As of writing, South Korea has confirmed 144 new infections, bringing that up to 977 total cases and 11 total deaths. More than 80 percent of the infections in South Korea have been found in Daegu, the country’s fourth largest city.

Many attribute the Covid-19 outbreak in South Korea to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where a 61-year-old female member of the church attended at least four church services before she was diagnosed. South Korea now plans to test all of the some 200,000 members of the church.

Because of the spike in Covid-19 infections, President Moon Jae-in announced Sunday that the alert level has been raised to the highest level of “grave,” which allows the government to send extra resources to cities like Daegu, forcibly prevent public activities, and even order temporary closure of schools. In the last months, many South Korean acts have also been postponed and cancelled in the Philippines, including K-pop group EXO and South Korean singer and actor Ong Seong Wu.

In response to the outbreak, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised everyone to avoid travel to South Korea for the mean time. According to ABS-CBN News, the Department of Foreign Affairs have not issued a travel ban to South Korea but advised everyone to “monitor and comply with the advisories from South Korean health authorities to quell the further spread of Covid-19.” Currently, no Filipinos based in South Korea have been reported to have contracted the disease.

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Covid-19 is officially asymptomatic and can stay undetected for longer than 14 days

During the first months of the Covid-19 outbreak, the common belief was that the virus can stay undetected for up to 14 days. So when you did not exhibit symptoms after 14 days, you’re free to walk and claim yourself Coronavirus-free.

But according to new research published by the American Medical Association, Covid-19 is now officially asymptomatic, which means a person can be infected and infect others without ever knowing it. This comes from studying a 20-year-old woman from Wuhan who completely infected her five family members without exhibiting any kind of symptoms. The five family members, however, all went down with fever and respiratory symptoms.

The same held true for the passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 322 of the 621 people who tested positive for Covid-19 showed no symptoms.

This news of the virus going undetected has alarmed many since there have been many cases where patients produce false negative results more than once before they’re confirmed that they have the virus. This was the same for the woman from Wuhan, who tested negative on her first test, before testing positive a day after. To date, she still shows no signs of fever, cough, sore throat, or gastrointestinal issues. The studies about her case revealed that her incubation period lasted 19 days, longer than the originally assumed 14-day incubation period.

Zhong Nanshan, the person who “discovered” the SARS virus, published a research February 6, which suggested that the Coronavirus incubation period could be up to 24 days. His study, however, has yet to be peer-reviewed.

So if these studies hold true, a 14-day quarantine just might not be long enough to keep the virus from spreading.

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Image from AFP

Reinfection is more dangerous

Despite the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, many are actually recovering from the infection. In China, more than 27,500 people have already recovered, accounting for roughly 30 percent of total confirmed cases. Currently, there’s no tailored drug that treats patients infected by the virus. It’s purely the immune system responsible for the recovery. Once the body receives the message that a virus is attacking the person’s lung cells, the immune system then in response sends immune cells through the blood to fight the infection. But because the immune system is working double time to fight the infection in the respiratory areas, organs in other parts of the body start to fail and suffer.

But what’s more distressing is that according to new information from Taiwan News, doctors working at the Hubei province capital in China are claiming that a person who recovered from the virus is highly likely to contract the infection a second time. And some of these reinfected people succumb faster the second time around, this time due to heart failure.

One of these reinfected cases come from Szechuan Province, where the patient was discharged from the hospital after being deemed free of the virus, and was asked to self-quarantine for 14 days for precaution. But 10 days after the quarantine, the patient was again confirmed for the virus despite not leaving the apartment during the quarantine period.

Image from Reuters via ABS-CBN

Covid-19 has officially killed more people than SARS and MERS combined

Weeks after the Covid-19 outbreak, the fatality rate of the disease has remained at 2 percent, prompting the World Health Organization to claim that it’s not as deadly as its predecessor coronaviruses, SARS and MERS. In 2003, SARS had a fatality rate of 10 percent, killing 774 people out of its 8,098 cases. MERS, on the other hand, killed 34 percent of those that were infected, resulting to 858 deaths out of 2,494 cases.

But as of February 18, Covid-19 has clocked in more than 2,700 deaths all over the world, meaning it has killed more people than the SARS and MERS diseases combined.

Harvard scientist says Covid-19 may infect up to 70 percent of humanity

Because of the rate of Covid-19’s infection and fatality, Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch claimed that this particular coronavirus may not go away for a long time. In his words to The Atlantic, “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.”

In fact, he says this belief is an emerging consensus in the epidemiology circles. They believe that Covid-19 may emerge as the new seasonal disease—much like the cold and flu season—and may infect up to 40 to 70 percent of humans on earth.

If this was true, companies who are now working on creating a vaccine may be the answer to finally getting rid of Covid-19. Just this month, stock prices of a small pharmaceutical company called Inovio more than doubled after it claimed it discovered a vaccine for Covid-19. Hopes are not entirely up, however, since clinical trial in humans may still take months. If all goes well, testing can begin as early as late summer to see whether the vaccine can actually stop Covid-19 from turning into a new seasonal virus.

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PH testing the powers of coconut oil against Covid-19

According to Cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles in a report by ABS-CBN News, the Philippines is now preparing to send samples of virgin coconut oil (VCO) to the National University of Singapore to test the oil’s antiviral properties against Covid-19. The idea of using VCO first came up in a study published by Dr. Fabian Dayrit of Ateneo de Manila University and Dr. Mary Newport of Spring Hill Neonatolody, Inc. in January 31, claiming that VCO has significant amounts of lauric acid, which has potent antiviral properties.

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