COVID-19 : The Who, What, Where, What, How, Why

Fatou K. Njie

On the 11th of March 2020 the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom made a speech stating that the “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic[and epidemic that has spread to several continents].” Dr. Adhanom also stated that “In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.” And that “There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.” But, perhaps, what is the most alarming, is Dr. Adhanom’s statement that “In the days and weeks ahead, we [the WHO] expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.” So far the United States of America has declared the coronavirus a national emergency and declared a travel ban on 26 European countries. The Italian government has placed all those in Italy in a state of self quarantine and Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Guinea have reported their first confirmed cases of the virus. 


What are coronaviruses? Why is COVID-19 any different? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that range from being able to cause the common cold and the flu to respiratory diseases and are zoonotic (can be transferred from animals to humans). COVID-19 is different because it is a new strain of coronavirus that had not been identified in humans, the information known about the virus is ever-changing. The COVID-19 also causes respiratory illness and can cause pneumonia in severe cases. 


Where did the coronavirus originate from?

Not much is known about the origin of the virus, but the first suspected case of the virus was reported in Wuhan, China in 2019.


What are some symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties 


What countries are affected by the coronavirus? 

The map below shows the countries affected by COVID-19 on March 13 2020.

What are some protective measures against the virus?

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, and eyes
  • Stay at least 1 meter away from someone who is coughing or sneezing