Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Preventive Tips to Help Keep You Healthy
Coronavirus – it is the reason why:
- Masses were canceled – on Ash Wednesday – in parts of Italy.
- Mobile World Congress was canceled in Spain.
- 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are in limbo.
- Cruises have been canceled.
- The Stock Market has dipped.
- Thousands of flights have been canceled.
Although it has not become widespread in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not a matter of “if” it will happen, but a matter of “when.”
Fortunately, communities across the world are taking the virus seriously and using preventive measures to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy and safe.
What is Coronavirus?
It is a virus that causes the coronavirus disease which leads to active lung disease.
There are several similar coronaviruses, some of which impact not only humans, but also animals. They are zoonotic, meaning they can jump from animal to human, as seen with SARS.
Seventeen years after the SARS outbreak, the coronavirus that is largely on the radar and making headlines is Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19, which like SARS, causes respiratory illness in humans.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 has not been seen in humans prior to the outbreak – it is a new or “novel” disease. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Other sources have mentioned the possibility of a 30-day incubation period. Currently, there is no vaccine for COVID-19.
Is it Contagious?
It seems the virus is mainly transferred from person-to-person and is “spreading easily and sustainably,” as seen in parts of China, and now in other parts of the world, according to the CDC. Although the virus may be contracted from surface contact, the main source is believed to be from respiratory droplets, which can be inhaled after someone sneezes or coughs.
It is often compared to other conditions, such as the flu. The flu is also highly contagious, and the symptoms seem similar. The main difference is that the rate of death from the flu is .01% and the rate of the coronavirus, as reported in a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article, is reported to be between 2 and 4% at the epicenter, Wuhan. Outside of Wuhan the rate drops dramatically to .7%, still comparatively higher than 0.1% for the flu.
How Does COVID-19 Impact Compare to SARS?
Like COVID-19, SARS was a coronavirus. And, it is believed to have started in a wet market too.
According to recent reports, the two viruses share 80% of their genetic codes.
And, although COVID-19 appears to be less deadly than SARS, its onset and impact has been more rapid than that of SARS.
According to a Business Insider article, it took eight months for SARS to infect more than 8,000 people and kill 774. In just about 8 weeks (or two months), more than 75,000 people have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 3 times as many people or about 2,100 have died from it.
Helpful Prevention Tips:
Although there is a lot more to be learned and confirmed about the virus, below are ways to help prevent the spread of/avoid contracting the virus, according to the CDC.
Helpful Prevention Tips:
- Avoid close contact with others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water – even if they appear clean
- Wear a facemask if you show symptoms of COVID-19 or work in a capacity in which you may have a higher risk of exposure (i.e. health worker)
- Clean/disinfect surfaces
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze/cough and dispose of tissues in a garbage immediately
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when sick
Know the Facts:
Understandably, many people are worried about COVID-19. And, unfortunately, there are many assumptions and stigmas, which create even more problems.
According to a Washington Post article, many reported cases have been identified as coronavirus only because officials seem to be testing the sickest patients, which can create bias and skewed results.
Chinese restaurants, for example, have felt the impact. Some have reported a decline in business by as much as 70%, the article states.
“It’s irrational to avoid Chinese restaurants, since the risk of encountering the new strain will soon exist ‘whether you’re at a pizza place or a Chinese restaurant,’” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School Center for Health Security, who was quoted in the article.
According to the CDC:
“People—including those of Asian descent—who have not recently traveled to China or been in contact with a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 are not at greater risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19 than other Americans.”
Know Your Resources:
Despite the chatter, Coronavirus has become a rapidly evolving situation and more information is expected to emerge. The CDC is a great resource for learning more about COVID-19 and for receiving factual information and updates as the investigation continues. You can learn more here. You can also visit the World Health Organization website here to learn more and to read daily updates.