What to Know about COVID-19

6 mayo 2020

“One love. One blood. One life. You got to do what you should. One life with each other, sisters and my brothers. One life, but we're not the same. We’ve got to carry each other, carry each other.” – “One” by U2

Unless you have been hibernating in a desert island, by now you know that the virus officially known as COVID-19 hit the world stage in a dramatic way this past winter. This has affected the world in ways we probably won’t be able to accurately assess until it’s all over, but even now, we are seeing ripples of the chaos this contagion is creating.

Wuhan, China, the epicentre, has re-opened after months of quarantine. Italy is slowly releasing its lockdown and the UK is predicting that 20%+ of their workforce will become ill. Europe is slowly opening up but each country is taking its own approach. The Balearic Government is working with the German government to re-establish regular flights so that our largest market of tourist and second-home owners will return to spend money. Read more >> [link to Economic article]]

Mallorca, along with the rest of the world, is in economic meltdown mode, as the usual 20 million visitors from over 120 countries are now debating whether to cancel their holiday plans and just stay home.

Affordable Mallorca will share the latest facts about COVID-19 to help you manoeuvre past the panic and take a sensible approach to keeping you, your loved ones, and the public at-large healthy.

Vector map 2

The Numbers #

So many people keep saying, ‘put things in perspective.' Ok, let’s do that. As of Cinco de Mayo, Worldwide cases are at 3.58MM, 1.17MM recovered and 252k deaths. In Spain, 219k confirmed infected, 123K recovered and 25,613 deaths. These are only confirmed cases. Remember that the tests are not 100% reliable and many are unable to be tested. This is up from six weeks ago when there were 139,065 COVID-19 cases globally and 5,116 deaths and counting.

Even with the daily updates by government sources detail these numbers, many people are still continuing to push against quarantine measures put in place to guard the safety of the healthcare systems.

Without the info provided by the media, people would be flying blind on this and many unnecessary infections could occur. On the other side, too much info turns people into crazies and sets them on end-of-days-type food/medicine/face mask buying and hoarding sprees, shunning neighbours with a sniffle out of fear.

By following known cases, the estimate is that 80% of the cases of COVID-19 have been mild, though the more severe forms can lead to pneumonia, so prudence is required. More than a few rational people are spouting off a mortality rate of .004%. This is completely untrue no matter whose numbers are used. Each country will have a different mortality rate because each country is imposing regulations to restrict movement, contain community spread and support healthcare facilities and workers to not be overwhelmed.

The Science: What we know #

Scientist are learning more daily about the novel coronavirus.

  • The human body has never seen this virus before; hence, the name „novel“
  • Asymptomatic people spread the virus through visible and invisible droplets
  • Coughing, sneezing or simply rubbing the nose of an infected person then the person either contaminates the air or surface of objects where the virus lives for up to 2 days (from what is currently known)
  • People congregating in a contained and highly contaminated environment are more likely to be infected.

A scientist friend, who worked on the United States of America Dept of Defense EBOLA team in Liberia, described COVID-19 this way:

“This is a RNA virus. Viruses are not living things. They are genetic material wrapped in a protein "coat." They can't replicate without taking over a cell of a living organism...plant, fungi, animal, etc. The "spikes" on the surface ("Spike-"or "S-proteins" in this case, and scientists thought made it look like a crown, hence "corona") are receptors that act like a key to gain entry into the cell. That "lock" is a receptor site on the cell surface...a receptor usually used by the cell for normal physiologic activity.

If there is a very precise fit, the S-protein attaches to that cellular receptor, "unlocks" the cell, and the virus gains entry. The virus then unleashes its RNA into the cell. The RNA (or DNA in a DNA virus) "codes" (like a software program) processes that take over the cell's metabolic machinery to make components of, and package new, active virus.

So, the cell can't do its normal metabolic work. The viral RNA hijacks the cell's normal protein and genetic material production mechanisms to create new virus. Then, the cell dies and releases huge numbers of new viral particles into the host's body, and the cycle continues and amplifies as increasing numbers of cells are invaded. Anti-viral drugs like Remdesevir are aimed at blocking viral replication. Problem is, those drugs are best used EARLY when viral loads are smaller and there is less cellular damage.

The reason this virus is so "bad" is that it's "novel," meaning our immune systems have never seen it before. Our immune systems (the body's "burglar alarm" and "SWAT teams" and "fire departments" all rolled into one) just aren't alerted. So the virus pillages freely (for lack of a better, more precise and complicated immunological description).

DNA virus are likewise not living, just a different type of genetic material. Make no mistake, SARS-CoV-2 is a master replicator. All viruses work by invading and hijacking cells with the weird, singular purpose of making more of themselves. Creepy."

Many people are following community health guidelines. Most countries have imposed mandatory mask wearing in public. This is important since transmission probability is only 1,5% from a carrier with a mask to a healthy person with a mask. Asymptomatic people who do not know they have been infected either due to lack of a reaction to the virus or still in the incubation stage can infect anyone in their paths.

Actualities #

COVID-19, the name given by the World Health Organization, started at the end of last year. It is believed to have been transmitted by a virus spread by bats in a rare case of a virus being able to leap the barrier between animal and human, similar to theories about EBOLA spread. This is called a spillover event. After that, the virus spreads from person-to-person, potentially affecting a large number of people.

Spain's Government is working to mitigate the disasterous effects of COVID-19. They are slowly re-opening society and negotiating with Germany to determine phases of allowing travel abroad. This will be a time-consuming process that will have stops and starts since additional waves of infections are anticipated in both countries.

For a free global map link in real time of virus locations, click here >>Coronavirus Dashboard

Chances of Catching COVID-19 #

The World Health Organization has said this looks “very much like” a global pandemic but the Director General says it can be controlled. “The decisions we make can affect the trajectory of this epidemic.” Each country needs to make certain simple and reasonable measures to protect their citizens and people in other countries.

Finding, testing, treating and isolating cases make common sense, such as not traveling to places where the infection is widespread, avoiding large indoor gatherings, avoiding close contact with anyone showing signs of illness, covering mouth and nose when sneezing, regular hand washing, wiping down frequently touched object in the workplace and at home.

Masks are NOT deterrents. They will not save people from contracting COVID-19 but are good for those who have the disease already to wear to stop them from infecting others. Watch a scientist explain how the virus does so much damage.

Symptoms and Treatment #

COVID-19 looks an awful lot like the flu, and for most people will act like it as well. For those such as the elderly, babies and infants, those with compromised immunity systems, heart and lung disease or people who suffer from general respiratory weaknesses, the risk of developing a severe case is higher.

There is no specific treatment, folks. This is one you simply have to ride out for the most part. Of course, if you find yourself with flu-like symptoms and respiratory distress, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, or bluish face or lips, call your doctor toute de suite. Do NOT just turn up at A&E, as you could infect dozens of people, making things significantly worse for your community.

If you're curious, what what the Director Generale of WHO says in the latest

Mallorca Impact #

Now that the facts have been laid out, plotting a rational course using the tips above to prevent catching or spreading COVID-19 is the best way forward.

Sadly, the sensible approach hasn’t stopped people (over)reacting. According to a recent report by The Olive Press, ‘villas rentals are being cancelled and hotel bookings are down on the island, with people in the hospitality business putting it down to coronavirus fears.’

Events and conferences are being postponed or cancelled, including a convention expected to see 500 guests hosted by Italian multinational Luxottica Group. The Spanish Society of Glaucoma also cancelled their event at the Palacio de Congresos as authorities feared having this many medical professionals together in one place, especially from Italy, a known-hot spot for the epidemic. The Government is making pro-active decisions to limit the risk to the general public.

Additionally, the Mallorca Hotel Business Federation has stated that there will be a knock-on effect on employment with the majority of temporary contracts now being postponed, with start dates moving from April to the summer.

The economic impact could be huge, and not just on the island but worldwide. Globally, it is estimated that if the virus worsens, by April the airlines will lose US$26 billion (almost €23 billion) this year. A total of USD$2.7 Trillion – with a “T” could be lost, according to Bloomberg Financial. Catastrophic for the global economy which includes many small businesses.

Many hotels have decided not to open until Easter or after. That will be catastrophic for our local economy. What we know is that healthcare on the island is EXCELLENT. Truly some of the best care in the world. The hotels that are open or planning to open will be running special pricing for guests. And most people would love to enjoy the warmer Mediterranean climate without the hordes of tourists. Call first but don't simply cancel your travel plans out of fear.

Empty tables in Puerto Pollenca

What Should You Do? #

11 people have been diagnosed on the island, no fatalities. Out of the known infections, only one was to a healthcare worker of an ill person. The others are from residents who travelled to Italy and the Alps. So far, so good, but as Easter fast approaches and more people travel, is there reason to worry?

Probably not, say the experts, if you don’t do anything foolish. Most likely, if you practice good hygiene, you should be just fine. That said, good hygiene sounds easier than it is. An American friend posted this on Facebook:

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One Last Thought

We are not recommending for you to travel or not. However, we do recommend a few helpful suggestions that you should do regardless of quarantines, pandemics or the plane breaks down.

  • Keep a 3-week supply or more depending on circumstances of your medications on your person when traveling.
  • If you have special needs, make sure those are written out by you and/or your doctor and kept with those medications. In some more extreme cases, otherwise asymptomatic people have been become incapacitated within hours, which makes providing clear instructions close to impossible in a distressed situation.
  • Put ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on your mobile phone and in your wallet. If you do not have next of kin, make it a close friend. If you don't have one of those, time to get out and make a few.
  • Keep a bottle of water with you. Learn to take an empty refillable canister with you to the airport then fill up after you have gone through passport control. This is helpful when supplies might run low. Dehydration does not need to be added to your list of woes.
  • Lastly, when you sit down, introduce yourself to the person next to you. You have more than a few thousand 'friends' out there. You just haven't met them all yet.

“The decisions we make can affect the trajectory of this epidemic,” Director Generale, WHO

Sources #

  1. The verge.com
  2. Theguardian.com
  3. Majorcadailybulletin.com
  4. Washingtonpost.com
  5. Theolivepress.es
  6. Bloomberg.com
  7. CDC.Org

6 mayo, 2020


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