Hello everyone,

After a long hiatus, I have returned to write for all of you, although I hoped it would be under better circumstances.

To best prepare for the coronavirus, I believe there is a certain level of responsibility for everyone to understand how it began according to best scientific evidence we currently have, in terms that non-scientists can understand.

Please note that the summary below may include oversimplifications. If there are errors below, I would love to know!

How COVID-19 started according to the best available evidence:

Around late December 2019, Chinese authorities released information on a new Coronavirus (yes, there are other types of Coronavirus including SARS). Around that same time, Chinese authorities shared this information with the World Health Organization and rallied to sequence the genome of the Coronavirus in order to understand the “ingredients” and origin of COVID-19. The genome of the virus is crucial in developing a vaccine and to discover how it spread. The genome confirmed that the virus most likely originated from bats in a food market (which has now been shut down) in Wuhan, China. The connection to bats was established as it was discovered that the Coronavirus shared a 96% similarity to a different virus that infected only bats.

The virus spread globally from that point due to the fact that China has a population of nearly 2 billion people making it an ideal hotspot for the virus to reach other countries within the days and weeks ahead.

Who is the most vulnerable:

By far, the most vulnerable groups of individuals are the following:

-Elderly | If you have older parents, grandparents, or other loved ones that are above the age of 60, avoid contact with them for 14 days if you believe you have been in any way exposed to the coronavirus.

-Immunocompromised | If you have been exposed to the coronavirus, avoid contact with anyone you know, especially those that have any immune-system related issues for 14 days as they will have a much harder time fighting the virus.

-Other serious health conditions | If you have been exposed to the coronavirus, avoid contact with anyone you know for 14 days , especially those that have a serious issue such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

What Canadians should NOT do:

-You should not panic | Canada is in the incredible position of having the healthcare system and finances to fight this virus better then the vast majority of the world.

-Do not oversupply on hygiene products | You do not need 400 packs of hand sanitizer, but the elderly person who has a hard time getting up 10 times per day to wash their hands may definitely need it, and if you take it all, they are vastly more affected. Be kind!

-If you have been exposed, avoid going outside | We live in a country that has advanced technology services that deliver food and groceries to your door. The Government is also giving Canadians that have financial difficulties immediate EI funds, and other financial assistance to ensure your well being. Use the incredibly privileged services that are provided so we can avoid spreading the virus.

What Canadians SHOULD do:

-Buy non-perishable goods if you are healthy | If you are healthy and have not been exposed, go ahead and get a 2-3 weeks supply of non-perishable goods in case you do get exposed and need to self-isolate.

-Help your fellow vulnerable contacts |
If you are healthy, check in on your vulnerable friends, family, and community to ensure they are doing well.

-Avoid large gatherings | This is a crucial period of the virus where gatherings can result in the virus spreading at a much faster rate which would inevitably cause a situation similar to Italy where our hospitals and healthcare workers will be overloaded and overworked resulting in a much higher mortality rate.

-Social distancing | Now’s the time to practice elbow bumps and waving instead of handshakes or hugs. Keep a 3-6 feet distance in public if you are able.

-Wash your hands with increased frequency | Now is the time for everyone to constantly be vigilant to washing their hands. You should wash your hands for 20 seconds (sing the “Happy Birthday” song in your head while washing and that should be the right amount of time).

Follow the guidelines in the links below as put forward by the Government of Canada

Click here for the link to the Government of Canada advisory for the Coronavirus

I wish you all good health and thank you for reading,

Daniyal Zafar

Sources and further reading:

1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200131114748.htm
2. https://www.ecohealthalliance.org/2018/03/sars?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIiKzlnvGB6AIVDD0MCh0OdA-gEAAYASAAEgLS_vD_BwE
3. http://virological.org/t/the-proximal-origin-of-sars-cov-2/398
4. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/4/21156607/how-did-the-coronavirus-get-started-china-wuhan-lab

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