Knowledge is power. Thus, gaining a larger understanding of the new global pandemic that is ultimately helpful for one’s survival. Countries are on lockdowns, empty streets and people are in quarantine in their respective homes. Here are the things you need to know about the global pandemic that swept the world and the ways how you can protect yourself from it.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a highly infectious respiratory disease by a new virus strain. It was also known as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov), According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 came from a large family of viruses called the Coronaviruses (CoV). These viruses can cause flu-like ranging from mild to severe respiratory cases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
COVID-19 is zoonotic. This means that the virus is transmitted from animals to humans. According to WHO, some investigations found that MERS-CoV is from dromedary camels, and SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans while some study suggests that the COVID-19 is allegedly transmitted from bats.
COVID-19 emerged from an animal source and is now capable of human to human transmission. WHO states that the virus is spread through close contact with an infected person by their produced respiratory droplets from their cough or sneeze. Also, a new study was recently conducted that showed that the virus can stay on surfaces for hours. It stated that it was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Studies have shown that the virus is also spread asymptomatically. It showed that the people who are not showing any signs of the disease are causing a substantial amount of infection. But according to Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, the asymptomatic spread is not the major driver of the spread of the COVID-19. He also stated that we should focus more on those are showing signs of the infection.
According to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the asymptomatic transmission has an important role in spreading the virus. He also adds that it fuels the pandemic to the point it is difficult to control. Bill Gates also stated in the New England Journal of Medicine that COVID-19 is harder to contain than the MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV for its asymptomatic transmission and the mildly-ill or its presymptomatic spread.
Its first case was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China last December of 2019. It has almost 220,000 infected cases, and 9,000 deaths worldwide up to this current date of March 19, 2020. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, all 50 states of the United States of America including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands have reported 7,038 infected cases of COVID- 19 and 97 deaths as of March 18, 2020. Due to the global spread, the World Health Organization has characterized it as a pandemic last March 11. Currently, there are still no vaccines available and no specific antiviral drugs and treatment for the COVID-19.
The common symptoms of infection range are from mild to severe respiratory illness that includes runny nose, sore throat, fever, difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath and fever. In some severe cases, the infection may cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and the worst-case scenario— death. Symptoms may show 2-14 days after the exposure.
Here are some best protective measures against COVID-19 according to the World Health Organization (WHO):
Wash your hands regularly
Clean your hands thoroughly and regularly. You can do this with a sanitizer with at least 60% of alcohol or better yet, cleanse it with soap and water. It is the easiest thing you can do to protect yourself from the coronavirus and other viruses. Because of this. viruses can enter your body through your mucus membranes located in your eyes, nose, and mouth. Here are some steps you can take for proper handwashing:
- Wet your hands with clear and clean running water.
- Use soap to lather up your hands. Do this for 20 seconds or you can sing a happy birthday song to best remember it. Wash your hands thoroughly by not forgetting to wash your wrists, the back of your hands, and in between your fingers.
- Rinse the lather off properly with clear running water.
- You can use a clean towel or airdry them in drying your hands.
Keep at least a one-meter distance between you and other people. This is to reduce the risk of getting sick or to avoid infecting other people in case you are a carrier. According to WHO, there are small liquid droplets that may contain viruses which are sprayed when someone coughs or sneezes.
Practice proper respiratory etiquette
Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when coughing to avoid spraying your respiratory droplets. When sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth as well with a tissue or a personal handkerchief.
Tune in to your local news stations to stay updated with the latest developments about COVID-19. Take note to follow all the advice given by your trusted healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority for more ways in protecting yourself from getting sick.
Seek medical care when sick
Contact the nearest hospital or your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will instruct you on what to do and point you to the right health facility. This will help in protecting your family from the virus as well.
Stay at home
Staying at home is the best way for you to help in stopping the spread of the virus. This is because you might risk infecting other people asymptomatically. If you’re sick, stay in touch with your healthcare provider and doctor and avoid public transportation as well. In addition to this, stay away from other people and lessen your contact with your pets. You may isolate yourself or do a home quarantine with one caregiver to take care of you.
Wear a mask
Make sure to keep a mask on despite keeping your distance from others. Also, wear a mask especially when you’re sick or taking care of someone who is sick. According to WHO, this is the proper way of putting on and disposing of a face mask:
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
There is still no vaccine for COVID-19 and antibiotics don’t work for it because it’s not a bacterial infection. But according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, scientists all over the world are rushing in making a vaccine and medicine for it. For now, listen to your local and national authorities and unite to end this pandemic.