I was going to Africa for the first time in my life. We were going on a mission trip to teach pastors who have had only minimal Bible school training. And then I wasn’t. The culprit? The coronavirus.
As I was talking on the phone to my sister in Pennsylvania about this abrupt change of plans, she received a phone call from her pediatrician. The doctor’s office called to cancel my nephew’s appointment for that day. The culprit? A possible case of coronavirus.
It’s clear that the coronavirus will affect the lives of people around the world for the foreseeable future. News about the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, is changing rapidly:
- Worldwide, the number of cases has passed 98,000 and the number of deaths is now 3,385, according to WebMD.
- Although China still has the majority of cases and deaths, COVID-19 infections are growing rapidly in some countries including Iran, Italy, and South Korea.
- Italy has the second highest number of deaths – and the country has closed its schools and universities until further notice in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.
- There are more than 200 cases in the U.S. of COVID-19 — with 14 deaths.
To give some perspective, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2017 there were 80,000 flu-related deaths in the United States alone – not counting the rest of the world. This was the highest death toll from the flu in 40 years. In recent decades, flu-related deaths have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 per year, according to the CDC.
What are Symptoms of Coronavirus?
After the December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified this new type, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which can be fatal. The reason for the concern among government officials is that while the flu generally kills fewer than 1% of those infected, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is currently around 3.4%. But it must be understood that the people most at risk are those already suffering from related illnesses, or from lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes. There are currently no vaccines or specific treatments for COVID-19.
One of the challenges with COVID-19 is that the virus can lie dormant anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure before symptoms appear. So people can be spreading the disease without knowing that they are themselves infected.
Early symptoms are similar to the common cold – fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The virus can turn deadly if it leads to pneumonia, respiratory failure, or septic shock. Those most at risk of death are the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
How to Prepare for the Coronavirus
You can greatly reduce your risk of exposure through rigid hygiene. This includes:
- washing hands regularly with soap and warm water for up to 20 seconds;
- using alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands;
- covering sneezes and coughs;
- disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched;
- avoiding contact with people who are sick;
- staying at home when you are sick.
What to do if Someone Contracts Coronavirus?
According to the CDC, it’s important to contact a healthcare professional if: (A) you develop a fever along with symptoms of respiratory illness (cough or difficulty breathing); and (2) you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with widespread cases of the disease.
Calling your doctor or health professional will help them prepare for your visit and prevent the spread of the virus to other people in the office. Be sure to wear a mask when you go to the doctor’s office and when you’re around other people.
The CDC also suggests that you avoid public transportation, ride-sharing services, and taxis. If infected, separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as soon as possible.
How to React to the Coronavirus Scare?
First of all, don’t panic. Stay informed. Follow the guidelines given by the CDC – which are common sense measures in the first place.
This virus can be deadly, so there is a reason that government officials and medical experts across the world are issuing strong warnings. The good news is that the vast majority of those infected so far have had only mild symptoms and have made a full recovery.
Place your trust in the Lord and do not fear. God gives us this promise regarding fear:
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)
For now, let’s pray for healing and comfort for those fighting this outbreak. Pray for world leaders who are making difficult decisions. And pray that this disease will be quickly contained and eradicated.
In the end, I’m still going to visit Africa – just not now. And that’s ok – better safe than sorry.
Dr. Craig von Buseck is Digital Editor of Inspiration.org.
If you would like one of our anointed prayer ministers to support you as you lift your voice in prayer, please click on the link below.
US / Canada:
UK / International:
+44 (0) 84 5683 0584
Be inspired and encouraged by this wonderful story exclusively on our 24/7 Christian network, Inspiration TV and our new Video on Demand (VOD). You can watch our powerful programming on either Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, via livestream at ini.tv/livestream, or on the Inspiration TV mobile app — click here for all the ways to watch!