The spread of COVID-19 is imminent. Here’s how to protect yourself.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, people across the globe are taking rash measures as panic becomes widespread.
Supplies like food, toilet paper, and cleaning products are flying off the shelves, leaving retail shelves empty and consumers fearful.
With President Trump declaring the virus a national emergency, school systems across the U.S. are extending breaks and even shutting down indefinitely. Businesses are implementing telecommuting options for their employees. Experts are telling people to stay at home as much as possible and avoid large crowds. It’s no wonder communities have experienced mass chaos.
We have never before experienced such severe provisions here in the United States. And they could even become stricter.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease, while the 19 indicates it was discovered in China in 2019. It is a novel coronavirus, meaning humans have never been exposed to this strain before and therefore have no immunity yet.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that specifically hit the respiratory system, typically causing mild to moderate symptoms. In healthy individuals, they usually manifest as a common cold. These viruses ordinarily circulate in animals but can transmit to humans.
However, so far in the 21st century there have been three novel coronaviruses that have emerged and threatened global health. These coronaviruses have had more fatal outcomes, as they produce more severe respiratory complications.
SARS-CoV appeared in China in late 2002, and the virus was identified in 2003. It had a very high mortality rate for the elderly population. Luckily, no cases have been identified since 2004.
MERS-CoV was another novel coronavirus that surfaced in 2012 in the middle east. According to WHO,1 The mortality rate for confirmed cases is just over 34%. While cases still appear, most are isolated to Saudi Arabia.
Currently, there are no vaccines for any of the novel coronaviruses.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms can range in severity between people and age groups but generally include:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms can take 2-14 days to appear. If you develop symptoms, call your doctor for medical advice (CDC)2. If emergency warning signs appear such as severe shortness of breath, bluish lips, or chest pain, get immediate medical attention.
How to protect yourself from COVID-19
The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid exposure to another individual that has come in contact with the virus or has it (CDC)3.
How does COVID-19 spread?
- Close contact with infected individuals (within 6 feet).
- Transmission of droplets during coughing or sneezing.
How to defend yourself against the virus
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Scrub for at least 20 seconds and rinse thoroughly. This is especially important after you have been in a public place.
- In instances where soap and water aren’t available or convenient, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content in order to effectively kill germs. Rub your hands together until completely dry.
- Avoid touching your face. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are all potential routes for disease transmission from dirty hands.
- Limit close contact with people, especially if they could be suspected to have the virus. As infection levels grow, it may be safer to stay away from public areas. Avoid shaking hands with others.
How to protect others against COVID-19
Current data suggests that the elderly population and those with underlying health conditions can have greater complications from COVID-19. Here are ways we can protect others:
- Remain at home if you are feeling ill.
- Stay home if you think you’ve come in contact with COVID-19 (self-quarantine).
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow to prevent droplet transmission and wash your hands afterward.
- Wear a face mask if you are sick. You do not need to wear a mask if you are healthy.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
What else you should know
- Be aware during travel if COVID-19 is spreading where your destination is. You could be at a higher risk of exposure.
- If for some reason you come in contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to self-quarantine from work or school for 14 days.
- If you choose to travel, continue to practice proper hand-hygiene and precautions.
- The CDC currently recommends that older adults or those with compromised immune systems should consider delaying travel plans.
As new developments are reported, some information or advice may change. It is important to get official information about COVID-19 from reputable sources. Always fact-check stories reported by news outlets. The CDC4 and WHO5 are currently the best sources of up-to-date intelligence for COVID-19.
While a global pandemic can incite fear and panic, it’s always essential to stay calm and refer to current recommendations for public safety.
Written by: Amanda Peterson
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (mers-cov)
Prevention Of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (covid-19)
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (covid-19)