What novel coronavirus is and what the World Health Organization says you can do to protect yourself

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


February 7, 2020

FSM—The Internet is rife with blatantly inaccurate information on the 2019 corona virus.  It is important to arm yourself with the most accurate sources of information you can find. The World Health Organization is one of those sources.  It can easily be found by searching for “what is coronavirus”.  www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses is an excellent source of information for what the virus is and what can a person do to protect themselves.

What is it and what does it do?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  But, though the new virus is in the same family as SARS and MERS, it is a different virus. A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The new, or “novel” coronavirus, now called 2019-nCoV, had not been previously detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with 2019-nCoV can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever.  It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.  More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as, diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

The 2019-nCoV causes respiratory disease and can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household workplace, or health care center.

The incubation period, time between infection and the onset of clinical symptoms of disease is currently estimated in a range of 1-12.5 days with median estimates of 5 to 6 days.  Based on information from other coronavirus diseases, such as MERS and SARS, the incubation period of 2019-nCoV could be up to 14 days.  According to recent reports, it may be possible that people infected with 2019-nCoV may be infectious before showing significant symptoms. However, based on currently available data, the people who have symptoms are causing the majority of virus spread.

WHO says that people receiving packages are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

What can you do to protect yourself

Stay aware of the latest information on the outbreak, available on WHO website, and take care of your health by doing the following:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty    

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.

Maintain social distancing – maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.

Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease like 2019-nCoV coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

Why? Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Tell your health care provider if you have travelled in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.

Why? Whenever you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing it’s important to seek medical attention promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Respiratory symptoms with fever can have a range of causes, and depending on your personal travel history and circumstances, 2019-nCoV could be one of them.

If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China, carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered, if possible.

Should I wear a mask?

Using a mask alone is not guaranteed to stop infections and should be combined with the above prevention measures.  WHO recommends using masks only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have suspected 2019-nCoV infection with mild symptoms or are caring for someone with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. A suspected 2019-nCoV infection is linked to travel in an area in China where 2019-nCoV has been reported, or close contact with someone who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.  The WHO website also has important information on the proper use of masks if you need to use one.

The World Health Organization doesn’t say this but when reading articles on the Internet or watching a video on Youtube, use good common sense.  WHO says gargling with mouthwash will not protect you from infection.  Neither will gargling with garlic. Though it’s not a bad idea to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, vaccines against pneumonia will not protect your from the new coronavirus. Regularly rinsing your nose with saline also will not help prevent infection.

Drinking bleach not only will do nothing to protect your from the new coronavirus, it can also kill you.

Use common sense and check reliable sources and health professionals before you consider following online “cures”.

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