What You Need to Know about the Wuhan Coronavirus

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(Editor’s note: As of this writing, a tourist visiting Hawaii was later diagnosed with coronavirus after he left the islands. One resident has been contacted and has self-quarantined. Everyday, new information is revealed about the Wuhan coronavirus, and it changes over time. Here’s what’s known today. We urge you to do your own research for the most up to date information. )

What You Need to Know about the Wuhan Coronavirus

Written by Ron Brown © 2020

What’s the Correct Name for It?

(1) Wuhan Coronavirus [pronounced “WOO-hawn”]

(2) 2019-nCov

(3) COVID-19

(4) SARS-CoV-2

These are all different names for the same thing.

Size and Shape of Virus Particles

Doing an online search for “Coronavirus” will produce verbal descriptions stating that the shape of both common flu viruses and coronaviruses can be filamentous (long and stringy) as well as round.

But clicking on “Images” will show many photographs from electron microscopes and the virus particles are invariably spherical or ball-shaped. No filamentous particles have I seen.

Size-wise, flu particles range from 80-to-120 nanometers in diameter.

Size and shape of the virus particles is important when we get to the topic of face masks and what it is that we can realistically expect the masks to filter out.

N95 Face Masks

According to the UCLA Department of Epidomology, an N95 face mask “blocks about 95 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger.”

0.3 microns equates to 300 nanometers.

The size of the virus particles we’re trying to block is smaller than what the mask is capable of.

Influenza A and B virus particles are 80-to-120 nanometers in diameter.

“The 2019-nCoV is a large-sized virus (approximately 120 nm in diameter).” according to the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA) is a dynamic trade association that represents a sector of the biologics and biotechnology industry.

In the above sentence, “nm” is the abbreviation for nanometers.

CONCLUSION: An N95 face mask provides you with little if any protection against a virus. At best, your mask will shield your neighbor from your sneeze droplets (which may contain virus particles along for the ride) just as your neighbor’s mask can stop his sneeze droplets from reaching you. (Editor’s note: Of course some protection is better than none; see what the CDC recommends on face masks here.)

How Face Masks Are Rated

The letter “N” at the beginning of the rating — N95 — means the mask is “Not oil resistant.”

The letter “R” — R95 — means the mask is “Resistant to oil.”

The letter “P” — P95 — means the mask is “Oil Proof.”

The number “95” — N95 — means the mask will remove 95% of all particles greater than or equal to 0.3 microns.

The number “99” — N99 — means the mask will remove 99% of all particles greater than or equal to 0.3 microns.

The number “100” — N100 — the mask will remove 99.97% of all particles greater than or equal to 0.3 microns.


Asymptomatic Spread

Infecting other people before “presenting” the illness yourself is called asymptomatic spreading.

The original story: A woman traveled (1/19) from Shanghai to Germany on a business trip “and displayed no signs of the disease.” She met with a German businessman on 1/20 and 1/21. She left Germany on 1/22.

The man got sick on 1/24. He recovered and returned to work on 1/27. On 1/28, three coworkers of the businessman tested positive for the coronavirus. One of those three had also been in contact with the same businesswoman. View the original story here.


The above report was later shown to be false in this article. Contrary to the original story, the woman “had experienced mild symptoms and was taking fever-suppressing medication at the time she [met with and] infected two colleagues.”

“[This] does not mean on its own that asymptomatic spread cannot or has not happened. Chinese officials have reported some other cases of asymptomatic spread.”

(Notice: We do not give medical advice.  We may write about general health topics with regard to emergency preparedness but this is not medical advice.  Please contact your medical professional if you have symptoms.)

How Long do Virus Particles “Live”? And How Can You “Kill” Them?

How long can a virus “live” on a hard surface — a doorknob, tabletop, computer keyboard, car door handle, car steering wheel, cell phone, light switch, toilet handle, TV remote, musical instrument, child’s toy, house key, ladies’ purse, and toothbrush/toothbrush holder? And what “kills” a virus — heat or cold?

  • Based on the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), coronaviruses can persist on surfaces and remain infectious (at room temperature) for up to nine days.
  • LOW temperature and high humidity will increase the “lifespan” of the virus.

What cleaning solutions work against coronaviruses?

According to Professor Günter Kampf from the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the Greifswald University Hospital, “If these agents are applied in appropriate concentrations, they reduce the number of infectious coronaviruses by four so-called log steps within one minute: this means, for example, from one million to only 100 pathogenic particles.”

Incubation and Quarantine Period

At this point (2/13/2020), the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends a quarantine of 14 days for those suspected of having the Wuhan coronavirus.

But a study published 2/9/2020, written by 37 specialists, says the incubation period can be up to 24 days, not just 14. Their conclusion was based on data from 1,099 confirmed coronavirus patients at 552 hospitals in 31 Chinese provinces and municipalities.

According to Time magazine on 2/10/2020, the U.S. currently has over 800 people quarantined on six different military bases.

If the 24-day incubation period be true, we are or will be releasing folks from quarantine early. Whereupon they can carry the coronavirus home to the rest of us. Wowzers!

Sources of Info

CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

Official (and real-time) updates on coronavirus outbreak

South China Morning Post

About the Author

I’m a retired engineer. I live in the countryside in upstate New York (not to be confused with New York City). My only real claim to fame is a series of eight books on Amazon entitled “The Non-Electric Lighting Series.” Each book in the series is available in both Kindle and paper format. The series has been well received. Whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself I review the readers’ comments. And I always come away smiling. Gee, maybe I’m not such a bad guy after all.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

(Full disclosure: This article has affiliate links. This means that if you purchase via a link, I may receive a small percentage. This doesn’t cost you anything extra but helps the blog out. Of course it is always your choice if you want to click through any of my links.)

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  1. The author describes himself as a retired engineer. That classification covers a great deal of ground. Electrical, chemical, civil, or sanitation?

    I am concerned about the information being disseminated here, i.e., “An N95 face mask provides you with little if any protection against a virus.”

    The reason that an N95 mask provides some protection is that it protects the wearer one from inhaling the droplets of saliva and phlegm that an infected person releases into the air with sneezes and coughs. These droplets are larger than 3 microns, something that the author does not seem to take into consideration.

    What I have read is that an N95 mask will provide no protection for someone who touches a contaminated surface and who then touches his eyes. Likewise, an N95 mask will not protect a person whose eyes are exposed to contaminated droplets in the air. Good eye protection is necessary to do this. Given how many times a day we touch our face (one small study found that it was over 15 times an hour in an office setting), trying to figure out whether the mask failed or the wearer was contaminated through the eyes is difficult, at best.

    There is a reason that almost everyone seen in photos and videos in China is wearing a mask, and any mask is better than no mask. One video surfaced that allegedly showed a person who was out on the street and who was not wearing a mask. He was shot dead when he ran away from police. Other videos show people who refused to wear masks being arrested. and who kicked and screamed while they were led away under arrest. The Chinese are obviously taking the need to wear masks in public very seriously.

    China is rushing around-the-clock production of masks. It is unlikely that the US is going to see N95 masks being imported from China for a long time. The Chinese government will ensure that they will be kept home for domestic use.

    I am not an engineer like the author, and I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. I am also not an M.D., epidemiologist, or microbiologist, the sort of people whose opinions I would actually value. Everything I have read indicates that there is no sure thing with surgical, N95, or N100 masks, but that wearing masks certainly helps. I encourage readers to do their own investigation into the matter.

    I would love to hear from readers who have spent a career studying the issue so that the rest of us aren’t led astray and find ourselves paying for the error later.

  2. The good news, Survivormann99, is that your criticism might spur a few folks into doing some homework of their own on the topic. The links I provide in the article could serve as a starting point.

    The bad news is that you might not like what you find.

  3. Ron, you are correct. I MIGHT not like what I find, but I didn’t publish advice to readers without providing citations and authorities to back up my opinions. We are not talking about opinions about the best brands of freeze-dried foods, or the way to tell how much time remains before sunset. This issue could be the difference between life or death for those who rely on what they read.

  4. (1) In his original post, Survivormann99 says, “There is a reason that almost everyone seen in photos and videos in China is wearing a mask . . . The Chinese are obviously taking the need to wear masks in public very seriously.” He infers that the Chinese (in their ancient wisdom) must know something and that we should respect their expertise.

    Oops! On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2020, the Chinese announced that 1,716 Chinese healthcare workers (doctors and nurses and orderlies) were infected with coronavirus. Today, Feb. 18th it was announced that Liu Zhiming, director of a hospital in Wuhan City, died of the novel coronavirus. (In this context, “novel” means “new.”)


    (2) In a later post, Survivormann99 provides a link and says, “I encourage readers to read the Comments section . . .”

    The very first comment is this: “Influenza virus is spread through viral contact with mucous membranes. This is even stated in the CDC interim guidelines. It is not spread from inhaling respiratory particles as with tuberculosis. You can compare surgical masks to N95 respirators all you want. You are not researching the real issue, protecting the exposed mucous membranes. The appropriate mask for any influenza or other virus spread via droplet would be a fluid shield or a mask and goggles. It seems to me that the obvious is being overlooked.”

    “Fluidshields” are different from N95 face masks. Halyard (brand) appears to be the leader in fluidshields. https://www.usamedicalsurgical.com/halyard-health-fluidshield-level-3-fog-free-procedure-mask/

    (3) Lastly, Survivormann99, in his initial rant, uses a fair amount of cuteness and sarcasm to discredit me. Methinks he discredits himself.

    In finance, the catchphrase is DYODD (Do Your Own Due Diligence). The same can be said of COVID-19 face masks.

    Peace out.

  5. Not to prolong this discussion any more than necessary, but a little digging shows that FluidShield is a brand of face masks. What sets FluidShield apart is that they contain a layer of Loncet breathable film (patented) which resists fluid penetration. FluidShield masks are manufactured and/or sold by Kimberly Clark as well as Halyard.

    Unfortunately, the range of FluidShield mask styles, their ratings and how they differ one from another, is a bit bewildering. This is a link to page 1 of 3: https://products.halyardhealth.com/catalogsearch/result/index/?p=1&q=face+masks

    And I’d like to toss in a couple of links for homemade masks. Certainly worth a few minutes to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNjpH5lBZ8w (2:01 total) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg-cwD4Edac (neat idea starting at 1:40).

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