What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus, more commonly known as COVID 19, is a zoonotic virus, closely linked to other respiratory viruses of the same family, such as colds, flu’s, MERs and SARs.They can pass between animals and humans and most carry similar symptoms such as fevers, coughs, and shortness of breath. COVID19 is a new Coronavirus that started in China and has spread country to country, because it is new most people haven’t built up any immunity to it so it will spread more easily. There is no vaccine for it.
How does COVID 19 spread?
As with many similar viruses, COVID 19 spreads via respiratory droplets, from an infected persons nose or mouth. These droplets are what contain the virus. So, if someone coughs or sneezes the virus will then travel from one person to another. The virus does not last long on hard or other surfaces; it’s thought that any viruses on hard surfaces will die after about three hours.
There is NO evidence that humans can pass COVID 19 to animals such as domestic pets (cats and dogs etc.), therefore there is no spread of the virus through domestic animals from owners who may have it.
The most common signs of Coronavirus infection include the following symptoms:High fever. Dry cough. Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
In more severe cases patients may have the following symptoms: Pneumonia. Severe/acute respiratory syndrome. Kidney failure.
A small percentage of cases, most notably patients with underlying health conditions such as immune compromised conditions – asthma, diabetes and heart disease – have ended up with the worst cases. Sadly some of these have resulted in death; these are an extremely small percentage of the population however and the numbers of deaths from COVID 19 are much lower than the yearly common flu deaths.
Symptoms take between 1 and 14 days to show after a person has visited an affected area, or come into contact with someone who already has it.
Prevention is key!
Wash your hands! The recommendation is to wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20-30 seconds. This should be done before eating and drinking or preparing food, coughing or sneeze, caring for others, after toilet use, handling general rubbish or animal waste. Hand sanitiser is only necessary if hot water and soap is unavailable.
If you have a cough, use the crook of your elbow or a tissue to cough into. Discard the tissues. Clean hands with soap and water.
Don’t spit, this will spread the virus to others.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, these are all areas where the virus can enter your body.
A distance of 1 metre (3 feet) is recommended between someone who is coughing or sneezing and yourself.
Masks have limited effectiveness. They’re only really useful if you are the person who has the virus, to stop it from spreading. Paper masks/material masks have little to no protection for someone who is trying to prevent getting it.
What if I think I have COVID 19?
If you develop symptoms, and think you may have COVID 19, you must follow the advice set out by your country’s Public Health Department.
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Don’t go to the hospital or doctors, you will only spread the virus further if you do have it. You should phone your local doctor, hospital helpline or clinic and discuss your symptoms with them. They may ask if you have travelled. If medical staff think you may have been subjected to the virus, or have the symptoms, you will be asked to self isolate for 14 days, or if unwell with underlying medical conditions, be taken to hospital. Most people leave self isolation after 14 days once symptom free, and are released from hospital once symptoms have gone.
COVID 19 is a new form of flu virus, the reason it is has spread is due to humans not having been affected by it before, and being so talked about in the press so much. The number of cases worldwide are still incredibly low in comparison to the number of yearly flu cases that affect people. Most who get COVID 19 do recover and have mild symptoms.
The advice is don’t panic. Follow prevention measures. Whilst it’s worrying seeing the daily news reports, most people who get this virus do recover well, with no lasting problems.
If in doubt, call your local medical helplines.
For more comprehensive information please visit the dedicated World Health Organisation page
Source information and public health images courtesy of WHO.