Mon | Jun 1, 2020

The facts about coronavirus

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2020 | 12:12 AM

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is the disease caused by a virus strain that began spreading in people in December 2019.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in both humans and animals. There are currently seven strains of human coronaviruses that have been identified.

Health experts are concerned because not much is known about this new respiratory virus, and it can cause severe illness and pneumonia in some people.

•The COVID-19 virus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

•The COVID-19 virus is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness like the common cold.

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It is a pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) was first alerted to the disease on New Year’s Eve, and in the following weeks, researchers linked it to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, the same family responsible for the diseases Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, as well as some cases of the common cold. On March 11, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, announced that the outbreak would be declared a pandemic, the first time a coronavirus has caused such a spread.

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Watch for symptoms

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The following symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure:

•Fever

•Cough

•Shortness of breath

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If you develop emergency-warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:

*Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;

*Persistent pain or pressure in the chest;

*New confusion or inability to be arousd.

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Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

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How COVID-19 is spread

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

•The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

•The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

-Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 six feet).

-Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Take steps to protect yourself.

*Clean your hands often

•Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

•If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.

*Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

•Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact.

*Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

*Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. They include older adults and those who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

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Take steps to protect others.

*Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Call your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing.

•Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.

•Avoid public transportation if you can. Opt for ride-sharing, or taxis.

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Take steps to solate yourself

*Separate yourself from other people in your home: This is known as home isolation.

•Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific “sick room” and away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.

•Limit contact with pets and animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals just like you would around other people.

-Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known.

-When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

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Wear a face mask if you are sick.

•If you are sick: You should wear a face mask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.

•If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in the home should stay in a different room. When caregivers enter the room of the sick person, they should wear a face mask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.

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Cover your coughs and sneezes.

•Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

•Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined trash can.

•Wash hands: Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.

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Clean your hands often,

•Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

•Hand sanitiser: If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.

•Soap and water: Soap and water are the best option, especially if hands are visibly dirty.

•Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

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Avoid sharing personal household items.

• Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.

•Wash thoroughly after use: After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.

*Clean all ‘high-touch’ surfaces every day.

*Clean high-touch surfaces in your isolation area (‘sick room’ and bathroom) every day. Have a caregiver clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in other areas of the home.

•Clean and disinfect: Routinely clean high-touch surfaces in your ‘sick room’ and bathroom. Have someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas but not your bedroom and bathroom.

– If a caregiver or other person needs to clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, that person should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver/other person should wear a mask and wait as long as poHigh-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.ssible after the sick person has used the bathroom.

•Clean and disinfect areas that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.

•Household cleaners and disinfectants: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then use a household disinfectant.

– Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure that germs are killed. Many also recommend precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure that uou have good ventilation during use of the product.

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How to discontinue home isolation

•People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

-If you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

-You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers);

AND

Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath has improved)

AND

At least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

*If you will be tested to determine if you are still contagious, you can leave home after these three things have happened:

You no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers)

AND

Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)

AND

You received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.

In all cases, follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

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What is the risk of getting COVID-19 on an aeroplane?

Because of the way air circulates and is filtered on aeroplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily. Although the risk of infection on an aeroplane is low, try to avoid contact with sick passengers and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.