Ready for a big surprise? Coronaviruses are actually nothing new. Many different types of coronaviruses exist, some of which are associated with the common cold. However, in December 2019, a new type of coronavirus was first documented in Wuhan, China. This new — which explains the term "novel" — type of coronavirus was classified with the name COVID-19 to differentiate it from other types of coronaviruses. It spread quickly from continent to continent and country to country and was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Currently, no vaccine exists for COVID-19, and the virus spreads easily from person-to-person and by touching a surface that an infected person touched. Because the virus spreads so easily, many people are concerned and want to know how to protect themselves and their families. Here’s what you need to know to prevent the spread of this virulent strain of coronavirus by taking the right steps to protect yourself and others.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
Coronavirus is spread mainly via person-to-person contact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that people maintain social distancing protocols, which means remaining at a distance of at least 6 feet apart when out in public. This provides a buffer zone if an infected person coughs or sneezes. If people are close together, the respiratory droplets produced from coughing and sneezing hover in the air and are breathed in by those nearby.
When infected droplets are inhaled or get in the noses and mouths of others, it spreads the infection to those people. This is the main reason coronavirus is so contagious. A study performed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Laboratory of Virology in the Division of Intramural Research in Hamilton, Montana, found that coronavirus can linger in the air for up to three hours. However, it generally dissipates and falls more quickly.
Coronavirus can also live on surfaces for quite some time after an infected person touched the surface. Studies have shown that COVID-19 can linger for up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on stainless steel and plastic.