Wearing a surgical mask is not a full guarantee that you won’t get infected – viruses can also transmit through tiny viral particles and can penetrate masks. However, masks are good at catching droplets, which is a primary transmission path of coronavirus, and a number of studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of efficacy).
If you’re inclined to maintain close contact with a person infected, then a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. If you are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask may also protect others.
So masks are crucial for the health and social care workers looking after patients and are also suggested for family members who must look after a person who is sick — ideally, both the patient and carer needs to have a mask.
However, masks will most likely make little difference if you are just walking around town or taking a bus so there’s absolutely not any need to bulk-buy an enormous supply.
It is mutating into a more deadly strain
All viruses accumulate mutations over the virus which causes Covid-19 is just the same. How widespread unique strains of a virus become is determined by natural selection — the variations that could disperse the quickest and replicate effectively in the body. This does not necessarily mean most harmful for people though, as viruses that kill people rapidly or make them so ill they are incapacitated may be less likely to be transmitted.
Genetic evaluation by Chinese scientists of 103 samples of this virus, taken from patients in Wuhan and other towns, indicates that early on two major strains emerged, designated L and S.Though the L strain appeared to be more widespread than the S strain (about 70 percent of the samples belonged to the former), the S branch of the virus had been discovered to be the ancestral variation.
The team behind this study suggested that this may indicate that the L strain is more”competitive”, either transmitting more readily or replicating faster within the body. But this concept is speculative at this point — there have not been direct comparisons to check whether those who catch one variant of this virus are more likely to pass or suffer symptoms.
It is no more dangerous than winter flu
A lot of people who undergo coronavirus will experience nothing worse than seasonal flu symptoms, however, the general profile of this illness, including its mortality rate, seems more serious. At the start of an outbreak, the apparent mortality rate could be an overestimate if plenty of moderate cases are being overlooked. The evidence didn’t suggest that we were just seeing the tip of the iceberg. If carried out by further testing, this may mean that current estimates of a roughly 1 percent fatality rate are true. This would make Covid-19 approximately ten times more deadly than seasonal influenza, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people per year globally.
It only kills the older, so younger people can unwind
Most people that aren’t elderly and don’t have underlying health conditions won’t become seriously ill from Covid-19. However, the illness still has a greater likelihood of leading to acute respiratory ailments compared to seasonal flu and there are other at-risk groups — health workers, for example, are more vulnerable since they’re likely to have greater exposure to the virus.