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COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease that predominantly affects the respiratory tract. This disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a type of human coronavirus. The name can be broken down as follows: CO is for coronavirus, VI is for virus, D is for disease, and 19 is for 2019, the year it was first discovered.
Now, let’s quickly review the respiratory tract, which can be divided into two regions: the upper respiratory tract and lower respiratory tract. The upper respiratory tract includes the nose, nasal cavity, the oral cavity, pharynx, epiglottis, larynx, and the upper part of the trachea; while the lower respiratory tract includes the lower part of trachea, and the lungs containing the bronchi, bronchioles, alveolar ducts, and finally the alveoli.
Alveoli are tiny air-filled sacs where most gas exchange occurs, so as we breathe, the inhaled oxygen moves from the alveolar sacs into the blood, while the carbon dioxide moves from the blood into the alveolar sacs to be exhaled.
Okay, so COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus entering the respiratory tract. The virus is most often spread from person to person through respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles. These particles are expelled when an infected individual talks, sneezes, or coughs. The droplets can then land on another person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, and ultimately reach the respiratory tract. Less frequently, the virus is transmitted indirectly when an individual touches a contaminated surface and then, prior to washing their hands, they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
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