Coronaviruses are a type of organism that often cause respiratory diseases in people and animals. In the fall of 2019 a new mutation of a coronavirus was first detected in China. The new variation was soon recognized to have properties similar to the 2003 coronavirus that led to the description of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As such, the virus was named SARS-CoV-2 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can lead to a specific form of illness characterized by very high fever and dry cough named coronavirus disease 2019 – abbreviated to COVID-19.
Within months of its identification, despite extensive efforts at containment, COVID-19 spread around the globe and was declared by the World Health Organization to be a “pandemic”; a world-wide epidemic of an illness for which people have no natural immunity. To address the risk, significant efforts are being directed at developing a vaccine. However, as of the published date of this document, no such preventative medicine is available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Nonpharmaceutical intervention would be the most important response strategy” to COVID-19. Their pronouncement means that infection control and home care of the affected are the key response measures.
It is noted that older adults, particularly those with weakened immune systems and underlying health problems, are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 associated illness. This means that medical facilities and eldercare accommodations are especially vulnerable to outbreaks.