Over the last few weeks, the news has been consumed with stories of the Coronavirus. What started out as a disease located only in China has quickly spread around the world, bringing with it a great deal of panic because people simply don’t understand enough about the virus.
That’s what we’re here to do: give you the answers you need so you can take the proper precautions to protect yourself!
Let’s start out with the basics:
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses in both humans and animals. SARS was one such virus, as is the MERS virus. COVID-19 is just the most recently-discovered coronavirus.
COVID-19 shares genetic similarities with SARS and other coronaviruses. However, though it has proven more infectious than other coronaviruses, it is far less deadly. As of March 2nd, the total infected population around the world is 90,000 (info courtesy of the New Yorker), with fatalities estimated at around 3,000 people.
Initially, COVID-19 was only present in China—it began in Wuhan, where the quarantine efforts undertaken by the government were initiated to prevent spread. However, as of March 2020, it has now spread to every continent around the globe.
But don’t think it’s time to start panicking! There’s so much you need to know about COVID-19…
COVID-19 is highly infectious, and it is typically caught from others who are infected with the virus. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, small droplets can pass to the mouth or nose of others, leading to infections. It can also land on objects or surfaces, which can then lead the virus to spread when someone else makes contact with those objects or surfaces.
COVID-19 isn’t airborne, but it’s only carried on the respiratory droplets of the infected. It’s recommended that you stay at least 3 feet away from anyone who appears sick in order to protect yourself from the disease.
It is not possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who is showing no symptoms of illness. However, those infected may only show mild symptoms (see below). If you know someone who is even slightly ill, it’s recommended to keep your distance just in case it is COVID-19.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
The symptoms tend to be mild initially and will gradually worsen.
It’s estimated that 80% of those infected recover without any special treatment required.
Roughly 1 in 6 infected will become more seriously ill and may develop breathing difficulties due to the infection.
Those with existing health conditions—heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.—or older people are at higher risk.
It’s recommended that anyone with fever, coughs, and breathing difficulties seek medical attention just in case it is the COVID-19.
With only 90,000 cases around the world, it’s VERY unlikely that you will be exposed to COVID-19. 95% of the cases are confined to China, with only a fraction occurring around the world. However, it’s still important that you understand the precautions you should take to protect yourself from infection.
Get informed. Stay up-to-date on the latest developments of the COVID-19 outbreak. Don’t start panicking, but learn as much as you can about the disease and its chances of spreading to your area. The World Health Organization and CDC websites have a lot of information that can help you educate yourself.
Keep your hands clean. That means washing them with water and soap regularly, or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Both soap and hand sanitizer can kill any germs or viruses that may contaminate your hands. Make it a point to clean your hands at least once every two or three hours, just to be sure they’re as virus-free as possible.
Keep your distance. If there is someone around you who looks sick or has any symptoms of respiratory disease—sneezing, runny nose, coughs, etc.—make sure to keep a 3-foot distance from them. This is the “safe” range to avoid any respiratory droplets that they may expel when they cough or sneeze.
Keep your hands away from your mouth and nose. Your hands are going to pick up all kinds of germs throughout the day as you touch your computer, your phone, your pocket, your steering wheel, door handles, tables, and so on. Once the germs and viruses are on your hands, they can be passed to you anytime you touch your mouth and nose. That’s the other way viruses can enter your body and make you sick.
Practice good respiratory hygiene. That means blowing your nose instead of sniffling, sneezing into the crook of your elbow, turning your face away when you cough or sneeze, and throwing away any snotty tissues immediately. This is the best way to protect yourself and others!
Stay home and rest if you feel sick. Even if you’re not experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19, your immune system is compromised by whatever virus or bacteria is causing you to feel unwell. That means your body is at risk of getting infected by other pathogens, including the COVID-19 should you come in contact with it. If you’re not feeling well, stay home and rest. Not only will you give yourself a better chance of recovering from your current illness, but you’ll reduce the risk of getting infected yourself or spreading any current infections to others.
COVID-19 is currently being hyped up by the media, but the truth is that it’s not as dangerous or life-threatening as you may fear. The information above can help you take the proper steps to protect yourself and others from this disease!
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