I’m not typically a betting man. But I feel pretty confident that there isn’t a single soul on this planet who hasn’t experienced, seen, or felt the impact of what is scientifically known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19.
As a Health Coach, husband, father, and inhabitant of this planet, I have come to the conclusion that when times like these become our new reality, it helps to have as much factual information as possible. Because in the end, we each individually are responsible for our personal health and well-being. So with that, I wanted to share some basic facts derived from our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the matter.
First things first. The coronavirus is not new. What we are currently exposed to is a novel (new) version that has not been previously seen in humans. This is quite contrary to the coronaviruses that have commonly circulated among humans and had milder symptoms similar to the common cold. And because of this, on February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially tagged it as COVID-19 (‘CO’ stands for Corona, ‘VI’ stands for Virus, ‘D’ stands for Disease, and ’19’ represents the year of the initial reports of origin back to the Wuhan City, China).
It’s important to remember that there are many types of human coronaviruses. And despite the best efforts of Government and Private Institutions, there is currently still much to be learned AND there is currently no vaccine to prevent the spread of this disease. The BEST way to prevent this illness is to avoid being exposed to it.
How Does It Spread?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness to people while others only infect animals. Rarely, animal versions of the disease emerge to infect and spread among people. And it’s speculated to be the cause of COVID-19. Two previous examples of this, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), are coronaviruses originating from animals that spread to people.
What is believed to be the first infections are linked to a live animal market in Wuhan City, China. But the virus is now spreading person-to-person. And even though the spread of a virus happens on a continuum of contagiousness, the virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be spreading easily and sustainably through our global communities.
Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That’s the importance and recommendation of the CDC to isolate those patients until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. That quarantine can vary depending on multiple factors and likely to be made on a case-by-case review. However, someone who has been released from isolation is considered to no longer pose a threat.
Currently, the coronaviruses are generally thought to spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets. There is no evidence to support transmission associated to food. It may be possible to contract the virus from touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and then touch your own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes. And although this is not thought to be the primary way the virus spreads, it is extremely important to take the precaution of thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as a means of general safety.
How Do I Protect Myself?
Knowing how the virus spreads is key. As it is thought to spread person-to-person, practicing social distance (spacing of at least 6 feet) will help to reduce the chances of becoming infected by persons coughing or sneezing as carriers of the virus. The droplets can land on the mouths or noses nearby and even possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
You can also protect yourself by cleaning your hands often. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. And avoid contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth until hands are thoroughly cleaned. And avoid close contact with those who are visibly ill. Distancing yourself from others helps to contain the spread back into your own communities.
There are also steps you can take to protect others. First and foremost, isolate yourself if you are not feeling well. Except to seek medical care, stay home if you’re sick. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze with your hand, tissue, or the inside of your elbow. Then either dispose of your used tissue or immediately wash or sanitize your hands for at least 20 seconds. And if you’re not feeling well and have no option of avoiding extended contact with others, wear a face mask. Finally, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If common household disinfectants are not available, there are other options available to try your hand at creating temporary ones if needed.
What Are The Known Symptoms & How Can I Get Tested?
The current symptoms reported that are associated with COVID-19 include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If you develop these symptoms, think you have been in contact with a person or previously known infected area, STAY HOME and CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER. Older persons and all ages with preexisting severe underlying medical conditions should contact their healthcare provider sooner than later, even if the symptoms are thought to be mild. Your health professional will review your situation and advise you as to whether you should be tested.
It’s important to remember that this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation that requires all of our effort. The CDC and other experts are working to find solutions for this pandemic. It is also our role to work towards the solution of reducing exposure and transmission. And if we each continue to do our part as best we can, we will get through this.
Let’s all continue to work together and put humanity and quality of life at the forefront.
Sourced data from Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC.gov)