It seems you can’t turn on the TV, radio or connect to the internet these days without someone mentioning the Coronavirus or COVID – 19. This nasty virus has caused thousands of deaths with tens of thousands infected. What started in the Chinese city of Wuhan in the Hubei Provence, this disease has reached almost every corner of the planet. The virus is responsible for the cancellation of travel, closing of important events and bringing businesses to a standstill. Some severely infected towns and cities have been put under mandatory lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of this virus. But are we overreacting?
As with every disease, prevention is always going to be better than a cure and the best way to prevent becoming infected with a disease such as the Coronavirus is to avoid contact with people who have already been infected. The trouble is, that you may not know you have come in contact with such a person until it is too late.
Before you panic and lock yourself up for the unforeseeable future, it’s important to understand how the Coronavirus is spread and what symptoms you need to look out for. Once you know these key points, you can take measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
Before we discuss the best way to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, it does help to know what COVID-19 is. In the simplest terms, Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause illness in humans. The virus can cause a range of illnesses such as the common cold, to more serious infections such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The most recent strain or mutation of this family of Coronaviruses is the Novel Coronavirus which has not been previously identified.
The most common symptoms of the Coronavirus are similar to the influenza virus which include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Shortness of breath
In severe cases, Coronavirus can result in SARS, pneumonia, kidney failure and even death. However, most of these severe cases have presented in patients who have already been ill and have compromised immunity. These patients are often very young or the elderly.
Unfortunately, even if you take all the necessary measures to prevent contracting this illness, you may still become infected with the Coronavirus. The best you can do is to do your diligent best to prevent becoming infected, and if you do, take measures to keep the disease from spreading further. This is especially important if you regularly come into contact with young children, the elderly, or those who are vulnerable due to already being sick or having just recovered from a serious illness. To prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the CDC recommends the following:
- Avoid contact with people who are sick. They may not have been infected with the Coronavirus, but instead with the regular flu, but it’s better to the safe than sorry.
- Don’t rub your eyes, nose or mouth. If your hands have touched a person or surface infected with the Coronavirus, rubbing these vulnerable parts of your face may allow the virus to enter your body.
- If you are sick, stay home. You probably won’t feel like going to work or school anyway, so stay home. By going to work or school, you may very well pass your illness on to others so do everyone a favor and self-quarantine.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. This is best done with a tissue which can then be discarded, but if you don’t have a tissue on hand, sneeze or cough into your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces in common areas that are frequently touched. Even if no one in the office is showing symptoms, anyone could already be infected so supercharge the cleaning and use anti-bacterial and anti-viral cleanses on all these surfaces.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This is especially important after going to the bathroom (which you should be doing anyway). You should also make sure your hands are clean before eating and definitely after coughing or sneezing. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use sanitary wipes or anti-bacterial, anti-viral hand sanitizer.
- Eat a healthy diet. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake will not necessarily prevent you from becoming infected with the Coronavirus, but all those vitamins and minerals will certainly help you combat the disease. Increase your fluid intake and include lots of soup or bone broth to further boost your immunity.
- As with a healthy diet, regular exercise won’t prevent you from contracting the Coronavirus, but being fit and healthy will minimize the severity of the symptoms and you’ll recover a lot faster too.
- Cancel or postpone all non-essential travel to affected areas. Areas severely affected by the Coronavirus do not take long to become a news headline. If you have plans to visit these areas, cancel them or postpone them if you can. It is best to not be in such areas when the Coronavirus outbreak is at its peak.
You turn on the news and all the reports related to the Coronavirus show people walking around with face masks. As tempted as you may be to rush out and deplete your local pharmacy of its supply of face masks, you may want to look at some of the recommendations from the CDC. As beneficial as they are, face masks may not actually work in preventing you from becoming infected with the Coronavirus. If you are not showing any symptoms, the CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask to prevent becoming infected. Face masks should only be worn by people showing symptoms of the Coronavirus or any other illness that affects the respiratory system. The best face masks in these cases may prevent the disease from spreading further.
Health workers who find themselves constantly exposed to illnesses should certainly be wearing face masks in the execution of their duties. This is primarily due to the fact that they are more exposed to a variety of illnesses than the general population and will need to continue treating other patients. Wearing a face mask in these cases protect the people they are treating. If you are taking care of a person who may be vulnerable to becoming infected, or you believe you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, wearing a face mask may help prevent the spread of the disease to other members of your household or workplace.
Like many viral infections, the Coronavirus spreads in a number of ways. Leading health authorities like the Center for Disease Control and Infection, and the World Health Organization have identified the Coronavirus as being highly contagious. There are a number of ways to become infected with the Coronavirus and they include:
Contact With Infected Persons – This is the main reason the Coronavirus is spreading. You may come into contact with an infected person, particularly if you have been in close proximity of 6 feet or less. It is also possible to inhale the virus via moisture droplets expelled from the coughing and sneezing of an infected person or simply inhale or ingest these same respiratory droplets in an enclosed space with an infected person.
Touching Infected Surfaces Or Objects – A person infected with the Coronavirus may sneeze on a surface or object which may then be touched by an otherwise healthy person. The virus can also be spread by a person sneezing or coughing into their hands and then touching these same surfaces. That is why it is so important to practice good hygiene and wash your hands thoroughly before you eat, rub your eyes or any part of your face.
When Is A Person Contagious?
Any person infected with the Coronavirus can spread this disease. However, a person is considered to be highly contagious when they are experiencing most of the symptoms and feeling quite ill. Keep in mind though, that a person can be contagious before they experience any symptoms which is why it is so important to adopt a high level of good hygiene practices.
When Is A Person No Longer Contagious?
If a person has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, they will need to be examined by a doctor and tested for the disease. Isolation or quarantine is recommended while a patient is contagious. They can be released from quarantine when they meet the following CDC guidelines:
- The patient is no longer feverish and does not require fever-reducing medication.
- The patient is no longer presenting the classic symptoms of the Coronavirus, including coughing and sneezing.
- The patient has had two consecutive respiratory specimens come back with a clear or negative result provided they were taken at least 24 hours apart.
Once a patient has been cleared and released from isolation or quarantine, they are no longer considered to be a risk at infecting others.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Most people who become infected with the Coronavirus may feel very ill and will definitely need bed rest and special care. Those most at risk, however, are the elderly, the very young and those who are already immune-compromised due to an existing or underlying illness.
As with most disease outbreaks, the early days, weeks and months are often clouded with panic due to misinformation. The best way to ease your own trepidation is to separate the facts from fiction. We’ll look at some of the more outrageous myths related to the Coronavirus so you can make up your own mind.
- Hand dryers can kill the Coronavirus – This is pure fiction. The air expelled by hand dryers is nowhere near hot enough to kill the Coronavirus. To minimize the risk of becoming infected by the Coronavirus, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If none is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Post and Parcels from China – Many countries in Europe have restricted sending and receiving post and parcels from China to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. This is a definite waste of time and resources. Research has shown that the Coronavirus cannot survive long on objects so any mail you receive from China is completely safe. The fact is, no one single person has become infected from accepting mail from China.
- Pets and the Coronavirus – Some reports have stated that the Coronavirus can be spread via contact with pets. So far, no animal has been shown to have become infected with the Coronavirus. However, you should still practice good hygiene and wash your hands after playing with your pets. If they don’t spread the Coronavirus, they may still be able to infect you with E. Coli and Salmonella.
- Coronavirus Vaccine – At present, there are no vaccines for the Coronavirus and even if you have been inoculated for pneumonia or influenzas, you will not be protected against the Coronavirus.
- Taking Antibiotics For Coronavirus – Antibiotics are absolutely useless against the Coronavirus because we are dealing with a virus. Antibiotics only work at treating bacterial infections. If anything, taking antibiotics for a viral infection may actually do more harm than good as this substance will destroy both good and bad bacteria.
Don’t give in to the scaremongering being rapidly reported in the media. The Coronavirus is no more dangerous than a garden variety flu infection. It is serious for some people, but most people unfortunate enough to become infected will recover quickly and without and complications. Take care of your overall health and steer clear of people you know are sick and you’ll be fine.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of the Coronavirus, contact the CDC or your local doctor. They will advise you on the best course of action and may arrange a home visit to prevent yours from coming into contact with other people and further spreading this disease.
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public – World Health Organization
- Coronavirus – World Health Organization
- Interim Guidance for Preventing the Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Homes and Residential Communities – Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
- Coronavirus Disease-2019 – Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
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- Coronavirus Infections – MedilinePlus
- The deadly new coronavirus is starting to spread in the US. Here’s how to protect yourself – CNN Health