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Corona Virus - Practical advice for individuals

The corona virus which causes COVID-19 is a new type of virus which originated in a Wet Market in Wuhan, China in late 2019.  It affects the lungs and airways.  In later posts we will look at its origin but for today's post I would like to prioritise sharing advice generally accepted around the world as being the best practical advice for individuals to avoid catching this disease which according to current models is at least 20 times deadlier than the seasonal flu and is a much greater threat to society globally.

Symptoms

The main symptoms to look out for are: 

- Dry cough - in general it is considered that one of the main indicators is a dry cough which is persistent.  In some cases it may be a persistent cough in general.

- Shortness of breath

- a fever of 38 degrees celsius or more.  

It is really important that, if you experience symptoms, that you DO NOT GO TO THE DOCTOR, HOSPITAL OR EMERGENCY CLINIC - instead phone your doctor or local medical practitioner or national help line and inform them of your symptoms and they will arrange for a test to be done and decide if further treatment if any is required.  

There is no point in going to hospital emergency departments unless you are experiencing severe symptoms as you will only waste limited resources and time and may expose yourself to further infection.  As there is no cure for COVID-19 as yet, the only option available is supportive care while your body's immune system fights off the virus.  

Important statistics to note are that 

  • 80% will have mild illness and make a full recovery within a few weeks
  • 14% will have a more severe illness
  • 6% will have a critical illness

The main danger groups are those aged over 70 years of age and those with compromised or weakened immune systems and underlying health issues.  For this reason its so important for younger people to take responsibility for their actions and help in avoiding the spread of the virus to older or more vulnerable members of society.

Recommended actions individuals can take to minimise the spread of the virus

The global consensus recommends the following steps: 

1) Wash your hands with soap and warm water after touching surfaces outside your home.  You can use hand sanitiser too but soapy water is just fine.  You need to wash your hands for 20 seconds and ensure ever surface of your hand is scrubbed.  A very useful video explaining how to do this is below: 

You should wash your hands:

  • after coughing or sneezing
  • before and after eating
  • before and after preparing food
  • if you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • before and after being on public transport or in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
  • when you arrive and leave buildings including your home or anyone else's home
  • if you have handled animals or animal waste
  • before having a cigarette or vaping
  • if your hands are dirty
  • after toilet use

Keep your hands in good condition, moisturise them often. Any basic product that is not perfumed or coloured is OK. 

Do not wear gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

2)  Avoid shaking hands with others or other close contact.  Historically people shook hands to show they were not hiding a weapon up their sleeves - nowadays a wave or smile will do! 

3) Limit social gatherings and crowded places - here advice varies between 10 - 100 people but for safety sake I would suggest avoiding any unnecessary groupings in general until the emergency is over. 

4) If you have to cough or sneeze then do so into a disposable paper handkerchief or into your arm or sleeve.  Dispose of the handkerchief and wash your hands afterwards and remember to wash your clothes when you return home.

5) Avoid touching handrails and door knobs with your hands and then absolutely avoid touching your face as this is a major transmission vector for the virus.  Wash your hands after touching these surfaces.

6) Avoid close contact with people and maintain at least a distance of 2 meters (6 feet or more) between yourself and others.  

7) If you have kids, then keep them in and away from other kids as they are also a significant transmission vector for the disease.  If your country's schools have not been closed yet then explain to your kids the importance of keeping away from other kids for the duration of the emergency.  

8) Do not share bottles or other objects that touch your mouth.

9) Only use a face mask if you are sick yourself... otherwise it is of very little use to a healthy person.

10) Avoid any unnecessary travel and try to work from home if it is possible in your work.

Sadly, this pandemic is going to take many lives as it progresses.  It is estimated currently that the about 3% of cases detected will result in fatal outcomes and that in general 1 in every 1000 people will die from the corona virus.  You can monitor the number of infections and status of the virus in your country at Worldometers Corona Virus Statistics at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ 

 


The objective of all these measures is to 'FlattenTheCurve shown in the graphic above which reflects the progression of the virus with and without preventative measures.  

Useful Resources:  

With a lot of mis-information and hoaxes circulating the web and social media we want to share with you reliable sources of information to assist you in getting the facts for yourself.

World Health Organisation Corona Virus Info:
https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
Irish Health Service Executive Corona Virus Information Site: 
https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
UK NHS Corona Virus Info Site
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
US Center for Disease Control and Prevention Information Site:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 
BBC Corona Virus Coverage
https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51711227
Worldometers Corona Virus Statistics https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/