As of March 11th, 2020, the Corona Virus (COVID-19) has been recognized as a worldwide pandemic. We have known about the virus ever since it hit China last month, however now that it is likely to be at your door shortly, you need to protect yourself. Identifying symptoms is also important so that you can get help, if needed, as well as avoid infecting others.
It is important to stay calm and focused on reality. While this situation and the word pandemic are very scary, panic only minimizes our ability to think in a rational way. One of the greatest ways to decrease panic is with knowledge and awareness.
First, let’s talk about what you need in order to prepare.
Let’s talk about what you can do to prevent getting the virus in the first place.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), clean your hands often for at least 20 seconds each wash. Definitely wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing or having been in a public place.
If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Soap and water are better than hand sanitizer if they are available, so please don’t stock pile hand sanitizer.
Clean your home well and regularly.
The CDC precautions continue, saying whenever possible avoid touching surfaces in public areas that are touched by many, such as doorknobs, handrails and elevator buttons. You can use your sleeve or a tissue when you touch these. Wash your hands right after contact. Handshakes need to be postponed for now. Fist bumps or bowing are alternatives.
Stay away from anyone you know who has a cold or flu symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least a 3-foot (1-meter) distance away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Even when you are in crowded areas, keeping a safe distance away from others would be wise.
Dr. William Schaffner, an internist and infectious disease specialist from Vanderbilt University told CNN on March 9, 2020, that the elderly and those with existing compromised health are best served by staying away from crowds, so for now postpone going to concerts, the philharmonic and other places where large crowds gather in small spaces.
As of March 11, 2020, the authorities recommend not gathering in large crowds of 500 or more for everyone, hence the cancellation of sporting events around Canada and the USA, including March Madness, the Juno Awards, the closing of Disneyland and the cancellation of various conventions. Respiratory infection spreads faster in poor ventilated areas and closed in settings.
Older adults (over 60 years of age) and those who have existing medical conditions including lung disease, heart disease and diabetes will suffer the most and have the highest mortality (death) rate if infected, according to the CDC.
The director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier says, “the highest risk of COVID-19 is for those over age 80 who have other medical conditions”.
If you or someone you know fits into a high-risk category, stock up on groceries and any required medications, leave space between you and others, avoid crowds and travel, clean your hands and your house often, and stay home as much as possible.
The CDC lists the following symptoms to look for, which are much like a cold:
If you have the normal symptoms, call your health care provider for an evaluation.
Emergency warning signs: