World map of coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic as of March 13, 2020

Coronavirus: How To Protect Yourself & Others Against COVID-19

The word coronavirus(COVID-19) in white lettering and a azure blue background from the World Health Organization
(photo courtesy of World Health Organization via Facebook)

On March 11, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 is officially a pandemic (a worldwide spread of an infectious disease). Two days later, U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the pandemic, which will provide additional resources and funding to help fight the disease. With the COVID-19 disease now spread to more than 100 locations worldwide, what you can you do to prevent yourself and others from getting the coronavirus? While you may have many other questions, here are basic guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency for public health of the United Nations and the U.S.-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Illustration of the Coronavirus COVID-19
Illustration of the Coronavirus COVID-19 (photo courtesy of the CDC)

About Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are part of a family of viruses that can cause illness in humans and animals. It is part of the same family of viruses as the common cold. The most recent coronavirus is the infectious disease known as COVID-19, first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Vaccines/Medicines

There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent or cure the virus. However, several tests and clinical trials are being conducted around the world. On Thursday, March 12, scientists from the University of Toronto, McMaster University and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada have reportedly isolated the novel coronavirus. This will help scientists “develop better diagnostic testing, testing and vaccines”. Some western, traditional or home remedies may help provide comfort from symptoms.

Chart of coronavirus COVID 19 symptoms
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms (photo courtesy of CDC via Facebook)

COVID-19 Symptoms

Some people infected with the coronavirus will have no symptoms. But for those who do, symptoms include a low-grade fever, body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose, coughing and a sore throat. The virus can also cause more severe symptoms, like a high fever, severe cough and a shortness of breath. Symptoms occur from approximately 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

How Is The Coronavirus Spread?

The coronavirus is thought to spread primarily from one person to another. This occurs in close contact with another person, or when an infected person coughs or sneezes droplets that land in the mouths or noses of another person. The coronavirus can also be spread from contact with an infected surface or objects. If a person touches a surface or object that has the virus, it can then spread by touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes. Contrary to some speculation, the WHO says that COVID-19 can be spread in hot and humid climates.

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Chart detailing how to stop the spread of germs
COVID-19 Illustration (photo courtesy of CDC via Facebook)

How To Help Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19

Wash Your Hands

You should wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important if you have been in a public area or if you have coughed, sneezed or after blowing your nose. If no soap and water is available, you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. While hand sanitizers are currently in short supply, you can also try making homemade hand sanitizer.

Cover Coughing & Sneezing

Regardless if you are sick or not, you should cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve, inner bent elbow or tissue ,but never with your hand. You should then dispose of the tissue and wash your hands with soap and warm water as quickly as possible or with a hand sanitizer.

Keep Your Distance

You should try to keep some distance between yourself and people who may be sick or is coughing or sneezing. That’s because the coronavirus COVID-19 can be spread from one person to another through small respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth when a person is coughing, sneezing or exhaling. The World Health Organization recommends that people keep a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from someone who is sick. The CDC recommends you keep a distance of 2 meters or 6 feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. The term “social distancing” is currently trending to help stop or slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Clean & Disinfect

You should clean surfaces daily that are frequently touched with a common disinfectant to protect and others in your household or place of business. This includes doorknobs, light switches, tables and countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, keyboards and computers and especially your phones. Among the common American disinfectants are Lysol Disinfectant Spray, Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant, Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner, Clorox Bleach and Clorox Disinfectant Wipes. An updated list of disinfectants may be found on the EPA.gov website. Other household items that should be cleaned regularly include carpeting, flooring, clothing, bedding and pillows.

Stay Home illustration
Stay Home Illustration (photo courtesy of CDC)

Stay Home

To further reduce your risk of getting the coronavirus, the CDC and WHO are recommending you stay home as much as possible. In fact a Twitter hashtag #staythef…home has gone viral and its accompanying website has already had more than one million visitors.

If You Feel Sick

If you have a fever, persistent cough or have difficulty breathing you should seek medical care. However, you should contact your medical provider for instructions before visiting a medical facility. The supply of in-home test kits are expected to increase by next week and some communities are offering drive-up testing stations. If you or someone else in your home gets mildly sick, you or the sick person should stay in just one room and if possible, use only one bathroom. You should also wear a mask if you are mildly ill from the coronavirus or if you are caring for someone with the disease. If your symptoms are getting worse, you should seek medical attention.

Should I Travel?

The CDC is recommending that people postpone or cancel their upcoming travel, particularly to areas with a Level 3 Travel Notice. This currently includes China, Iran and most of Europe. People who are of higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 should avoid travel. People who are at higher risk include older adults and people with serious chronic disease like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

Additional Information

For additional information, please visit the WHO website, the CDC website or another established, verified and reputable source. Other recommended sources include Harvard University, Stanford Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic.

 

 

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About The Author:

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. His stories have also appeared in the Daily Meal, Examiner.com, CBS Radio and Radio.com, among others. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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