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How long does the coronavirus last? Will there be a second wave? What we know



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As businesses begin reopening and those who stay at home are slowly being lifted, many experts warn that this can increase coronavirus infections.


Angela Lang / CNET

Visit the WHO website for the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic.

There's a lot that doctors and scientists don't know about the coronavirus that infected about 5 million people and killed 324,000 lives, but one thing is for sure: we're not out of the woods yet. While locking restrictions continue to lift in the United States and around the world there is concern that a second wave of coronavirus infections may strike when people come in closer contact than in weeks. Coronavirus vaccines are still in the early stages of development.

Some public health experts say it is too early to reopen businesses and resume social activities, such as beach activities and events, even with limited capacity. Others argue that cities should reopen to keep the economy running and protective health measures will curb the spread of the corona virus in restaurants, schools, shopping centers, and on airplanes . The CDC has also released guidelines to assist local governments in identifying stages for reopening, and interim suggestions for restaurants, schools, and industry.

The full extent of the short, long-term effects of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease causing it are still unknown, including how long you may be immune after you have recovered and if it is possible to become infected again. Nor is it clear how government leaders would respond to a wave of coronavirus infections, although some, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have signaled that they will restore lockdown measures if necessary.

This story provides an overview to keep you informed of the current discussion. It will be regularly updated in the light of new and changing information from health officials, world leaders and the scientific community, and is not intended as a medical reference.

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What defines a & # 39; second wave & # 39; of an illness? Can there be more? Generally, a "pandemic" wave is a period of increasing disease transmission after an overall decline. While the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in some parts of the US, the number of new infections seems to be decreasing in other parts of the country and most of the world, potentially ending the first 'wave' # 39; of the pandemic. If and when infection rates begin to rise again, it will indicate the next or "second wave." The longer the pandemic continues, the more waves are likely to occur.

Read more : 7 things not to do when the corona virus lock and quarantine end

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Different parts of the country are lifting closing orders at their own pace, including the decision when to open non-essential companies.


Angela Lang / CNET

A wave can be made of smaller ripples

The coronavirus pandemic has not affected all parts of the country in the same way or at the same time. Cities and states went into lockdown and quarantine at different times and that's also how the country is starting to get out, with different areas easing restrictions in phases and at their own pace.

Some Health Experts have warned that the lack of a uniform reopening plan can help promote the spread of the coronavirus and in fact fuel a second wave when people travel from the worst affected areas to places with far fewer infections. Ali Khan, a former CDC official, said a second wave could include many simultaneous, smaller outbreaks that together look more like a single wave.

Read more : Need another face mask? You can buy one online at one of these stores

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When can the second wave of coronavirus strike?

As countries and states begin to ease lock restrictions, health officials around the world are already looking for rising infection rates that can signal a second wave of coronavirus-related diseases. . Most public health experts – including the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease – anticipate the next major revival this will happen fall or winter.

Why then? Flu cases drop in the summer, leading some health experts to hope that COVID-19 cases also decrease as the weather warms. Dr. Amesh Adalja, a pandemic preparedness expert at Johns Hopkins University, told the Los Angeles Times that other corona viruses don't fare well in the summer months because, once outside the body, both the higher temperatures dry them out and the ultraviolet light of sunnier weather affects them.

However, a recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal provides data suggesting that this particular coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 is insensitive to temperature differences and is only slightly affected by humidity. The recent outbreak in Mumbai and Indonesia's ongoing struggle to curb the virus show how the pandemic affects countries in climate zones, including many regions at or near the equator.

It may be that autumn and winter changes may occur as a result of reopening economies and people approaching and transmitting the infection again, but that reasoning is pure speculation and not the result of scientific research. We will have to wait to see what really happens.

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While some experts hope that the corona virus, like other many other viruses, will disappear during hotter, sunnier weather, new research suggests temperature does not affect the virus.


Patrick Holland / CNET

Could the second wave be worse than the first?

If there is a second wave of coronavirus, the severity of the outbreak would depend on several factors, such as how well people keep social distance and how many people wear face masks . The widespread availability of tests may also play a role, in addition to contract tracking for anyone who tests positive.

For example, a recent study and computer model developed by De Kai, a computer scientist with appointments from both the University of California at Berkeley and Hong Kong University, suggests that if 80% of the population wore face masks in public, coronavirus transmission rates would drop (pdf) to about 8% compared to not wearing masks.

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Most experts agree that extensive testing will be needed to curb outbreaks while we are waiting for a coronavirus vaccine.


James Martin / CNET
In short, the more measures there are to help reduce disease transmission – and the more effectively those measures are followed – the lower the infection rate can be the second time, according to the computer model.

Other factors that could play a role include potential genetic mutations in the coronavirus that could make it more or less transmissible, if they arise, the development of an effective vaccine, the development of safe, effective treatments for COVID-19 disease and the ability to test a large proportion of the population, even those who do not appear to be ill.

Will there be a lockdown?

It is possible. Decisions on future quarantines are up to heads of government working with health officials, but there is an indication that the need may arise.

In some parts of the world that have experienced a second wave of coronavirus infections after the lifting of lockdown restrictions, such as Singapore Hong Kong, the Japanese island of Hokkaido and some parts of China, lockdown measures are in place taken to combat a second case of rising infection rates. Until there is an effective vaccine it is possible that different parts of the world will see fluctuating levels of blockage as governments adjust their response in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.

Perhaps the most pressing questions of all are what a second wave of coronavirus could mean to you. Here's how we think life will quarantine ends when the public braces for a second wave. If you do have to leave the house, here are some practical ways to stay safe when you go out . Finally, don't unlearn all the good habits you developed during the pandemic – like washing your hands often.


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