The schools and many shops are closed, you should no longer meet your friends and keep your distance from other people. Why is that? How can a tiny virus mess the world up like this? This corona lexicon answers the most important questions – as far as adults know the answers.
Viruses are tiny particles. They are only 20 to 300 nanometers in size. It is so small that you can only see it with a special electron microscope. Some viruses look like tadpoles, others look like chopsticks. The new Corona virus Sars-CoV-2 resembles a sphere with knobs sticking out.
Viruses can Cause disease. They intervene in the smallest parts of the human body: the cells. They change them so that the cells themselves produce viruses. Then the body begins to fight it – and you feel sick.
The new corona virus is particularly effective the lung an essential organ. Most people do virus but not so deep in the lungs. Then it’s not that dangerous either.
It is different with people who are already weakened: their lungs can be badly inflamed by the virus. Then you have to go to Hospital and be treated.
When people get infected who are young and healthy, the disease runs mostly mild. Many don’t even notice. So you don’t have to worry so much about yourself.
Nevertheless, you should be careful not to infect yourself. A few young people get sick after all.
And maybe there is someone in your family who has been seriously ill before. Or someone who is still sick.
You should be someone like that especially respect take because he or she shouldn’t get the virus.
So: keep your distance! Of course it’s not that easy in your own family. An idea could be a room only for the sick to reserve.
Even if you find that your grandparents their bodies are totally fit already older. Their hearts and lungs are weaker than those of young people and their immune system, our body’s own fire brigade, is less able to fight the virus. Better not to get it at all.
This is only possible if you don’t meet other people who have the virus in them. This is why scientists and politicians say that you shouldn’t visit your grandparents anymore.
This is sad, but it will protect your grandparents better. You can call them, chat with them via video chat, or send photos. So you can show them that you think of them. Then they feel less lonely.
When a disease spreads quickly and across many countries, scientists call it one pandemic. The outbreak of the corona virus is such a pandemic.
For the first time you have the virus in China noticed. From there it quickly got to other countries. People carried it with them on their travels.
Some didn’t notice, others thought they were just cold, and some just wanted to go home quickly. They all spread the virus without wanting to.
If someone is infected with the virus, it can up to two weeks take until the disease breaks out. During this time, a sick person can fly around the world and pass the virus on to many people. And then they infect other people themselves.
Viruses have two types of antidotes. One is vaccination. When vaccinated, doctors inject a small amount of substances into the body. They help the body recognize the virus as an enemy in a number of ways. Then the immune system can fight the virus. This way the body knows what to do if it later encounters the virus. It is also said to be immune.
When a new disease occurs, scientists first have to invent vaccines. This takes a long time, because the scientists have to be sure that the agents work and are harmless to people. For that they have to do a lot of tests.
The new corona virus has only been known since December 2019. Therefore, there is as yet no remedy for this. Experts say that a vaccine could only be ready next year.
Another antidote is the drug. This helps if you are already sick. Some medications relieve fever. Anyone who has been worse ill knows, for example, paracetamol or ibuprofen. Other means help the body get rid of the virus.
Such drugs are often tailored to a specific disease. Doctors are currently testing whether agents that have been developed for other diseases will also help against the new coronavirus.
The virus is mainly in little droplets from person to person transfer. It happens when you speak, and especially when you sneeze or cough. Then you throw viruses into the air at a speed of 100 to 200 kilometers an hour – as fast as a car drives on the highway.
Fortunately, the droplets don’t fly far. They are too light and sink quickly. That’s why everyone should be at the moment at least 1.5 to two meters away stick to other people. Two meters is about as long as a bed. So it is less easy to infect each other.
The virus can also stay on smooth surfaces for some time. Therefore: the best barrel outside as few things as possible with your hands! And don’t put your hands on your face.
Because this is difficult, washing your hands with soap as often as possible helps. Soap destroys the virus – much better than disinfectants, by the way. However, very few people know that, which is why soap is still available in many supermarkets while Disinfectant is sold out.
It’s best to stay at home. When you go out, keep a great distance from other people. It feels stupid, but it’s the best thing you can do right now.
Maybe you can also help older or sick people and go shopping for them. You should namely if possible don’t even go out the door. The same applies here: Better not get too close to them. Better put the shopping in front of the door and have the money put down.
You need your pet do not worry. So far, no animal has been infected with the new corona virus and has contracted it.
Maybe you read somewhere that a dog in Hong Kong is said to have been infected. That is not right. The dog was tested and was healthy.
There are also corona viruses that are responsible for Animals are dangerous, but they have nothing to do with the new Sars-CoV-2. Nevertheless, it is important that you do not let other people hug your dog and, as always after walking the dog, wash your hands thoroughly.
In the beginning you might find it funny that you didn’t have to go to school. But maybe you are already annoyed, and you miss your friends. Most children are doing this right now. Nevertheless, it is important that as few people as possible meet at the moment.
Politicians often say that they want to keep the curve flat. This means that the virus should spread as slowly as possible. Recently, politicians even have a so-called No contact decided. Since then you have only been allowed to be outside with people you live with. Or with a single person who doesn’t live with you.
This should make fewer people sick and need hospitals. Only in this way can those who are seriously ill be treated well in hospitals. Otherwise it could not be soon enough doctors for all sick people give. The places in the hospitals could not be enough either.
Fortunately, you can talk to your friends in other ways. Maybe you will make one Video chat make an appointment for an online game. Or you write a letter.
Where you were shopping or strolling yesterday is now dark and empty. Most shops are closed, only the shops for the important things are open. So Grocery stores, pharmacies or workshops.
Politicians have decided that. Because people should no longer come together in large groups and thus spread the virus quickly.
For many businesses, however, this means that they no longer make any money. That is why some shops or restaurants offer a delivery service and bring the food home. For example, if your family needs books, you could see if the bookstore near you can send the books. That helps the business.
This is actually strange, because the corona virus usually does not cause diarrhea at all. Nevertheless, people are arguing in supermarkets for the last rolls of toilet paper. Some also haul more of it home than they can consume in a year.
Scientists explain it this way: People want to feel that they can do something and give themselves and their loved ones security. This is difficult with the virus wave at the moment. There is little you can do here.
So many people do what is possible, for example buy toilet paper. They also see others coming out of a store with lots of toilet paper, or find that the shelves are almost empty. Then they grab before there’s nothing left. Maybe that’s not logicalbut very human.
Unfortunately, nobody can really say that at the moment. Most federal states want to open the schools again in mid-April. It depends on how many people have gotten sick by then. Children can only go back to school if there are not too many.
So that as few people as possible get infected, everyone must now follow the rules. So until the schools open again, you’ll be home a lot. You can try to make it as nice as possible for you and your family there. And enjoy it that you are together so much.
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Text: Carsten Görig
Illustrations: Annick Ehmann
Editing: Inge Kutter, Philip Faigle, Meike Dülffer
Technical advice: Jan Schweitzer
Copyright for all graphics: ZEIT ONLINE, ZEIT Leo