Frequent hand-washing, coughing into the bend of your elbow and staying home when you are sick. These are some of the precautions we have been advised to take with the onset of COVID-19. This is a disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in China in December 2019.
The source of the coronavirus is believed to be a “wet market” in Wuhan which sold both dead and live animals including fish and birds.
Such markets pose a heightened risk of viruses jumping from animals to humans because hygiene standards are difficult to maintain if live animals are being kept and butchered on site. Typically, they are also densely packed.
The animal source of the latest outbreak has not yet been identified, but the original host is thought to be bats. Bats were not sold at the Wuhan market but may have infected live chickens or other animals sold there. Bats are host to a wide range of zoonotic viruses including Ebola, HIV and rabies. (The Telegraph)
According to the WHO, the main symptoms of the coronavirus include;
- A dry cough
- A temperature
- Shortness of breath (in more severe cases)
These symptoms are thought to appear between two to 10 days after contracting the virus.
The silver lining is that about 80% of people recover from the disease without needing any special treatment. 16%, however, could become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing.
If you suspect that you might have contracted the illness, you may be asked to self-quarantine to protect others or even if you do not have the symptoms but had travelled to a high-risk area.
If you think you have the virus, you should;
- Stay at home
- Avoid work, school and other public areas
- Avoid public transport and taxis
- Get friends and family to deliver food, medicines etc. rather than going to the shops
- Discourage visitors
If you live with others, try and stay at least 2 metres away from other people. Also sleep alone if possible. And stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
People having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention quickly.
Hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence, try avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands.
More tips include;
- Carrying a hand sanitiser with you to make frequent cleaning of your hands easy
- Always wash your hands before you eat or touch your face
- Be especially careful about touching things and then touching your face in busy airports and other public transport systems
- Carry disposable tissues with you, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue carefully
- Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into
- Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating
- Regularly clean not only your hands but also commonly used surfaces and devices you touch or handle