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Everyone is talking about the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and with so much information circulating around the virus, it’s difficult to differentiate between the facts, sensible precautions, overreaction and misinformation. If you are looking for expert advice, then the WHO (the World Health Organisation) is a reputable source for updates and information.

Declared a pandemic, many are claiming that the media is causing an infodemic. Whilst the majority of cases are mild, governments are aiming to slow down the spread of the disease to prevent healthcare systems being overrun with severe cases. In this blog, we outline what you need to know about the virus. 

What is a coronavirus?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), describes the coronavirus as a type of virus that causes symptoms of the upper respiratory system, these include coughing, a sore throat and runny nose –  much like the symptoms associated with the common cold. In some cases, coronaviruses can cause more severe symptoms like issues with breathing, illnesses of the lower respiratory system like pneumonia or bronchitis, and in extreme cases, even death. 

In early January this year, China and the WHO confirmed the identification of a new coronavirus. This new virus stems from several cases of pneumonia identified in Wuhan, a city in the Chinese province of Hubei, on December 31, 2019.

Interesting fact – WHO officially named the illness COVID-19. This name is short for coronavirus disease, with the “19” pertaining to 2019, the year the virus was first identified. The official name of the virus is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, also known as SARS-CoV-2.

Don’t panic 

Of course, with widespread media coverage, a state of the nation address in South Africa announcing the closing of schools and many public events being cancelled, it’s natural for the public to start to panic, but before you hit a flat spin and panic buy everything at your local grocery store in preparation for a doomsday situation, take a step back and take a deep breath – There is no need to panic. 

To help prevent the panic and the spread of the disease, we have put together 19 facts and easy-to-follow steps for you to try and help stay safe and sane.

COVID-19: 19 ways to protect yourself and stay healthy

Get your facts straight

Don’t believe everything you read, you need to make sure you only get advice from reputable sources such as WHO or CDC

Here are some fast facts on the virus: 

  1. According to the South African Government website for the coronavirus, as many as 82% of COVID-19 cases are mild, which means that patients only experience a slight fever, fatigue and cough. 
  2. Only about 6% of patients with the virus need intensive care. 
  3. The vast majority of people can stay at home, self-isolate and get better without any need for hospital treatment. 
  4. Those most at risk of infection include: 
    • Travellers to areas where there is ongoing sustained transmission of COVID-19 including Mainland China (all provinces), Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Italy and the Islamic Republic of Iran. 
    • Elderly, individuals with co-morbidities and healthcare workers

Know how the virus spreads

  1. Experts are working on a vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus, however, there is currently no vaccine.
  2. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze.
    • These droplets can land on the noses or mouths or people nearby or are possibly inhaled through the lungs 
    • Droplets can also land on surfaces which can infect another person who touches the same surface and then touches their mouth, eyes or nose

A fascinating fact from WHO

“Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).”

Know the signs & symptoms

  1. Know what the symptoms of the virus are (Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure)
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sore throat 
  2. Emergency symptoms include (according to CDC): 
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

Practice personal hygiene techniques

What is a coronavirus

Here’s how to protect yourself from the virus: 

  1. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (especially after being in a public place, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose).
    • If you do not have access to soap and water, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Use this sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until dry. 
  2. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or flexed elbow (then immediately dispose of the tissue)
  3. Avoid touching your face (especially with unwashed hands). 
  4. Avoid close contact with people who are sick or have recently gotten back from a high-risk area from mid-February 2020
  5. Practise social distancing – do not shake hands or hug other people 
  6. Do not share food and utensils
  7. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces (your phone is especially dirty)

Boost your immune system

Of course, you can wash your hands and practise all the safe practises in an attempt to try and avoid the virus, but your immune system, which is your body’s own natural system of defence against invading pathogens, is an incredibly effective way to prevent infection. And here’s how: 

  1. Regular exercise – you might be avoiding the gym, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a workout in. Check out this at-home full-body workout
  2. Take daily supplements and vitamins – Vitamin C, B6 and E will help boost immunity and fight off infection. 
  3. Eat well – a strong body comes from healthy and nutritious food. We have a ton of recipes available on our website, check them out here (Oh, and did we mention there’s dessert too?)

Know what to do if you are sick

Important to know: Call your doctor if you think you have been exposed to coronavirus and are developing fever and symptoms. Experts advise that you call ahead before visiting your doctor to prevent the spread of the infection. 

If you have recently travelled from a high-risk area, then you should self-isolate for 14 days. 

Take a look at this guide on how to self-quarantine.

  1. If you have mild symptoms, you should also self-isolate: 
    • Do not go to work, public areas or school 
    • Avoid public transport
    • Stay in a separate room and use a different bathroom if you live in a home with other people 

Stay informed, stay healthy and don’t panic! 

Gemma Oberholzer

About Gemma Oberholzer

I guess you can say I'm a serial self-improver. Since I was a kid I can remember being weirdly thrilled at the idea of learning something new and figuring out how to use that new found knowledge to better myself. This perpetual learn-grow itch eventually lead me to the field of Health and Wellness and it's here I've been, fascinated for the last 8 years of my study and work life. From Human Life Scientist and learning the mechanics of physiology and intricacies of metabolic biochemistry, to Food and Nutrition Scientist where I deepened my understanding of diet and it's key role in human performance and health. Geared with this comprehensive education and better appreciation for human health, I've since been able to practically apply this in my career through the fields of research, product development, brand management and marketing. In 2018, I was finally able to bring all these learnings together and so my passion project, WellBe&Co, was born. WellBe&Co is a personal and corporate wellness company specializing in easy-to-implement, lifestyle-focused nutrition, training and health solutions. It's here that I've gained invaluable insights into the human-side of the health and wellness industry in a way that has enabled me to provide relevant content and value-adding services to individuals and companies alike and live out our mission to build communities that know better and grow together through better health.

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