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The Truth About the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Why is it called Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses when seen under an electron microscope have surface projections, that give the virus an appearance of having a corona. The word corona comes from the Latin word meaning crown.

What are Coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are common human pathogens that cause upper respiratory tract infections that are usually mild. Novel 19 Coronavirus, the one causing the human infection, COVID-19, is different from the common human corona viruses that cause a cold.  This particular Coronavirus “jumped” from a non-human species to humans. This likely happened in a “wet market’ in Wu Han, China. A “wet market” is a place where live animals are sold to humans for human consumption. When these “jumps” from one species to another take place the virus is called a “novel’ virus. Meaning in this case it is new (novel) to humans. As a species we have no immunity to this virus, this in part is why it is spreading and can cause serious illness and death in some people. Why is this a bigger problem than seasonal flu, that in 2019/2020 will infect millions of Americans and result in thousands of deaths. There is an effective flu vaccine and there is treatment to prevent or blunt the course of influenza. As a species we have an immune history with the current influenza virus making the rounds. Health care workers are vaccinated and not likely to get influenza and spread it when they diagnose and treat people with respiratory illnesses. With COVID-19 infections there is no treatment, health care workers are at high risk to become infected and spread the virus in their work and non-work environments. If large numbers of people become infected and sick it could cause a strain on the healthcare system and the people who deliver care.

Is there an ICD-10 code for this?

There is coding advice on COVID-19. Follow this link to the ICD-10 CM Official coding guidelines – Supplement Coding encounters related to COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak.

The WHO has released a new emergency code U07.1  2019 – nCoV acute respiratory disease to be used in people with the  COVID-19 infection.

What to do?

Stay informed and get your information from trusted sources like the CDC and your local Health Department. Frequent hand washing and keeping surfaces clean that we touch seems to be effective in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 infection. It is possible with more widespread testing in the U.S. more cases will be found. Quarantine, something most of us are not familiar with, is an effective way to contain and eliminate contagious diseases. Quarantine is inconvenient and can disrupt our individual lives, but it does work. The extent and duration of the COVID-19 infection in the U.S. is unknown so stay informed and get your information from a trusted source.

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