Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Okay, it seems like the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) is becoming a scary situation, right? Big gatherings are canceled, some schools closed... some states already declared a "state of emergency". The problem is that we (in the US and many other countries) haven't had enough testing kits, so we actually don't know how many people have the virus. And because it’s a NEW virus, we don't have the vaccine or treatment for it yet, while it's quietly spreading globally and killing a small percentage of the infected people...
There's so much information about this virus now. But while talking with a friend of mine who's generally well-informed, I realized that many people can just get overwhelmed by the high volume of often lengthy (confusing) information... and may end up missing the crucial part - WHAT TO DO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. Remember, there's no treatment and not easy (& cheap) test yet, so it's so much better not to catch it!!
So, I decided to compile a really short summary and a list of what to do, based on scientific trustworthy resources and my own nerdy interests in infection control principles. 🧐
4 Important facts to remember:
Even if you catch the virus, you will be fine by just resting (80% of the infected people) for 2 weeks or so. But the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions can lose their lung functions and die (about 3% of the infected people).
Because it can be lethal, highly contagious with no treatment yet, it'd be best if all of us take the right action to prevent/slow down the spread. This will not only protect ourselves but protect those vulnerable people in the community.
Turns out some (often young) people can catch the virus but show no symptoms at all, so be aware those people/kids could unknowingly spread the virus.
A virus needs a living host. It dies if left outside of a host or on an object surface (within several hours to several days depending on the surface).
Only 2 Routes we know how COVID-19 spreads:
Inhaling droplets when people w. virus talk, sneeze or cough within 6 feet
Person to Person, OR Person (sneeze/cough) -> Object -> Person
This means "Virus gets on your Hand" -> You touch your mouth, nose, eye or food. That's how the virus enters inside of you.
**That's why handwashing is so important!
But in my opinion, just "wash your hands often" or "wipe down everything" isn't very helpful or realistic advice? Hence, I try to make this principle a little clearer in #2 below (Remember you cannot get infected by just getting a virus on your hand/intact skin. :)
WHAT TO DO for your maximum safety, #4 - #6 if applicable:
#1. Avoid going to any crowded places (elevators too!). Keep 6 ft distance from everyone (*1)! **Social Distancing**
#2. NEVER TOUCH your face or your food BEFORE washing (soap & water) or sanitizing (w. =>60% alcohol gel) your hands (for 20 seconds).
#3 Keep disinfectant wipes/Lysol spray with you, wipe/spray any surfaces before you touch it in public spaces (doorknobs, water faucets, tables, benches, etc.), or wash your hands immediately after.
#4 If you are elderly or have a medical condition, especially lung or heart, you should try to stay home. (Time to ask for help!)
#5 If you get any symptom (cough, fever, fatigue), you need a mask (microfiber cloth would do if you can't find a mask.) Never touch the front part. Throw away (wash in hot water) after each use. Let your doctor know of your symptoms. If you develop a breathing issue, go to an ER (call ahead to warn them. They can give you a mask).
#6 If your family member develops symptoms and you must care for them, both of you should put on a mask and keep the windows open in all the common areas (this is the current advice from public health officials. But honestly, 'quarantine' with other people doesn't really seem to work (remember the cruise ship situation??). PREVENTION IS EVERYTHING!
*1 Except for your loved ones...because we do need emotional support to get thru this!
I am confident you can prevent this serious infection if you can always do #1 and #2 alone (but I know... keeping our hands off our face can be much harder than we might think...) Still, knowledge is power and can make a difference. I really hope it will help keep you, your family and your community safe! 🙏 Let me know if you have any questions.
https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/prevention-and-screening-articles/wuhan-coronavirus (One of the best current articles I've seen, 3/6/2020)
https://youtu.be/1APwq1df6Mw (short video of similar info covered in this post by WHO)
https://youtu.be/lrvFrH_npQI (How to correctly use a mask, in case you need it)
https://www.goinvo.com/vision/coronavirus/ (Thorough but fairly easy to understand resource with nice graphics, updated on 3/6/2020)
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/06/health/self-quarantine-coronavirus.html?referringSource=articleShare (When you get a symptom, the right thing to do is self-quarantine)
https://publichealthinsider.com/2020/03/05/my-loved-ones-are-at-high-risk-for-coronavirus-time-to-make-some-plans/ (Good patient-centric insights when your loved ones at high risk)