By now, the world is well-aware of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. As the days and months progress, more information emerges about the virus and its behaviour. Scientists and doctors are working around the clock to find a cure and ways to treat the symptoms.
The World Health Organisation releases updates on the virus many times a day and has created a website with live statistics from around the world. Based on this information, we have compiled some useful ways to protect yourself from COVID-19. Here’s some information that we already know and some new details about the virus that you need to be aware of:
Information we know
- Between 30% and 70% of a population will become infected. This means that everyone MUST assume that they will encounter the virus in their daily lives.
- The symptoms start to show between 2 and 14 days after infection. During this period, you are contagious.
- Most people will show mild symptoms (fever, sore throat, dry cough), but 10% of those infected will need hospitalisation.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with regular soap and water. The fat in the soap breaks down the lipids in the virus.
- The virus enters the body through the nose, mouth and eyes. This is why you must avoid touching your face.
- People over the age of 60 and those with underlying health issues (such as tuberculosis, HIV, cancer, malnutrition, etc.) are most at risk.
- The virus is carried in heavy droplets of mucus and saliva, so it will fall to the ground after about two metres. This is why social distancing guidelines suggest staying at least two metres away from other people.
- The COVID-19 virus does not like heat (temperatures above 25℃).
New information about COVID-19
- 98% of infected patients first come down with a fever (body temperature over 38℃). 75% then develop a cough, two to three days later. 55% develop muscle aches and fatigue.
- The average incubation period is five to seven days with no symptoms. Young people have longer incubation periods (around 21 days), while older people (over 60 years) have a much shorter incubation period before showing symptoms.
- Air conditioning (in the office, home or aeroplane) will circulate the virus.
- The virus is more prevalent in men than women – 3.5 men per woman infected. Male smokers are highly susceptible to COVID-19. This is because the virus sticks to the ACE2 enzyme in the lungs and men have more of these than women. Smokers, diabetics and older people also have more of the ACE2 enzymes. Children have almost none of these enzymes because they develop with age and pollution.
- Children can be carriers of the virus but are less likely to show symptoms. Avoid hugging and being in close contact with children if you are in the high-risk category.
- Use a chlorine solution to wash surfaces, door handles and frequently-touched objects. Soap is more effective than alcohol for washing hands.
- People who get the virus and recover can remain contagious for a period after the symptoms subside. Do not visit relatives for 21 days, even if you have recovered.
- COVID-19 is also sensitive to latitude. The symptoms for people in Africa will be less extreme than for those living in northern latitudes (Asia, Europe and the United States).
Ways to protect yourself from COVID-19
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Do this every 10 to 15 minutes.
- Every morning, take a deep breath and hold it for 10 seconds. If you experience pain or an inability to hold your breath, it is an early sign that COVID-19 has started to cause fibrosis in the lungs.
- Avoid touching your face with your hands.
- Take a sip of lukewarm water every 10 minutes. This keeps your mouth and throat wet and flushes any virus into the stomach where your stomach acid will kill it. Drinking hot drinks (tea and coffee) is also effective.
- Wash your clothes with regular detergent and hang them out to dry in the sun.
- Only wear a surgical mask if you are coughing. It will catch the heavy droplets. Masks are not effective for preventing infection if you are healthy.
- Put your bedding and towels out in the sun for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Stay at least two metres away from other people at all times, especially those who are coughing or sneezing. Avoid human contact as much as possible.
- Vitamin D protects the alveolar cells in the lungs, so spend 10 minutes in the sun every day.
- Vitamin C increases immunity, so make sure you get enough every day.
- 20mg of zinc per day is enough to keep normal flu at bay. If you have the flu, you are at a higher risk for COVID-19.
- Disinfect the objects you touch regularly with chlorine or an alcohol-based solution (at least 60% alcohol). This includes your phone, computer keyboard, door handles, car steering wheel, toothbrush etc.
This pandemic is to be taken seriously – even by younger generations who are less at risk. It is highly contagious and no vaccine has been developed yet. By following the 21-day isolation guidelines, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overloading the healthcare system.
Remember to keep an eye on your friends and family. Most importantly, do not bulk buy groceries, medicines or sanitation supplies. We are all in this together and need to avoid being selfish. Help one another through these uncertain times and together, we can overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
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