Information for Educators on Novel Coronavirus
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2
Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ with Dr. Peter Hotez
In late 2019 a new respiratory illness appeared in Wuhan, China caused by SARS-CoV-2, a betacoronavirus, like MERS and SARS, both of which originated in bats. The respiratory illness, coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) expanded rapidly and now represents an evolving public health emergency with new information published daily.
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to family of viruses that cause a broad range of symptoms, ranging from the common cold to more severe infections. These viruses are large, enveloped, positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses.1 A positive-sense virus has genetic material that can serve both as genome and messenger RNA. It can be translated into protein in the host cell by ribosomes. Other positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses that cause disease in humans include hepatitis C virus, West Nile virus, dengue virus and SARS.
On December 30, 2019, a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown origin was detected in Wuhan, China. Most cases reported an exposure to the Wuhan seafood market, which was closed on January 1, 2020.2 A novel coronavirus was first reported on January 7, and the first fatal case occurred on January 11. The first case outside of China was reported in Thailand on January 13,2 and the first U.S. case was reported on January 20.2
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an up-to-date map of locations with confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world.
There currently is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent transmission is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. Interim guidance for US childcare programs and K-12 schools can be found here.
Measures that can help reduce possible transmission of respiratory illness, including COVID-19 include the following.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have flu- or cold-like symptoms, stay home to lower the chances of spreading the illness to others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or face. Mucous membranes of the face—eyes, nose and mouth—are entry portals for many microbes, including coronavirus and the viruses that cause the common cold.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, or cough or sneeze into your elbow. Throw used tissues away. Do not cough or sneeze directly into your hands, because you will spread the microbes from your hands to anything else you touch.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It is especially important to wash your hands before and after touching your eyes, nose or mouth, after using the bathroom and before eating . See this video from Baylor College of Medicine on how to wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Frequently touched objects include keyboards, doorknobs, countertops and desks.
The CDC offers printable posters to help raise awareness about handwashing that you can use in public areas or restrooms. The posters, which are appropriate for children and teens, are available at this link.
See resources provided by Baylor College of Medicine for ongoing coronavirus updates, a longer version of this article and links to additional resources.
- Paules CI, Marston HD, Fauci AS. Coronavirus infections—More than just the common cold. JAMA. 2020;37(October):435. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.0757
- Wang C, Horby PW, Hayden FG, Gao GF. A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern. Lancet. 2020;6736(20):1-4. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30185-9
- Holshue ML, DeBolt C, Lindquist S, et al. First case of 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States. N Engl J Med. January 2020:NEJMoa2001191. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2001191
There are more handouts & posters related to preventing the Spread of COVID-19 available from the CDC.