COVID-19 compared to SARS virus
Initial efforts to understand the behavior of the COVID-19 virus by researchers in Singapore suggest it is different from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and has more similarities with H1N1. Like influenza, COVID-19 is infectious when symptoms are mild, the researchers found. Because of this transmission mechanism, COVID-19, like influenza, can spread quite quickly, as people with mild symptoms may let their guard down. The other difference between COVID-19 and SARS is the severity, since the fatality rate in China for COVID-19 is lower than SARS. Outside of Hubei province in China, it is even lower, so mortality rates are lower than SARS. The fatality rate of SARS globally during the 2002-2003 outbreak was 9.56 per cent, as compared to a 2.14 per cent fatality rate for COVID-19 so far. The SARS outbreak led to 774 deaths out of 8,098 cases, according to WHO figures, while COVID-19 has so far killed at least 1,380 people out of about 64,400 cases (using the Hubei case definition). A study by the WHO based on 17,000 patients found that 82 per cent had mild symptoms, 15 per cent severe symptoms and 3 per cent had critical symptoms. The key message from this is not to let our guard down and insist on respiratory hygiene for persons with symptoms of a cold, flu and the like; and to follow EOC guidelines for testing when a travel history to China or other affected regions exits.