The year 2020 has treated us to a rough start. First, the threat of a third world war is ever-growing, and now there’s an ongoing virus outbreak that has got everyone on high alert. Both the U.S. government and the World Health Organization have declared COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, a public health emergency. Moreover, federal officials are advising Americans against going to China.
The first appearance of the coronavirus was recorded in Wuhan, China, in December. Ever since then, the virus has been spreading all over the world in several different countries. As of the 18th of February, there have been 73,438 recorded cases, 1,875 of which resulting in death.
With that said, it is possible to protect yourself from the coronavirus, and there is no better way than to adopt healthy habits. In this article, we’ll be going over 5 healthy habits you can adopt, which will protect you from COVID-19, aka the 2019 Coronavirus.
What Is the Coronavirus or COVID-19
The coronaviruses are nothing new. They are a family of viruses that get their name from their crown-like shape. There are several types of coronaviruses, such as the SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
What we’re dealing with has been identified by the World Health Organization as a nCoV (novel coronavirus), which is a new strain. These strains’ symptoms tend to resemble those of the cold largely. With that said, they can evolve to damage the respiratory system and cause similar symptoms such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
What’s special about coronaviruses is that they’re zoonotic, which means that they can be transmitted between animals and people. This has been the main cause behind the MERS-CoV and the SARS-CoV.
With that said, the main cause of the most recent outbreak is still under investigation. Some health experts speculate that the source of the virus might have come from an animal at a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan.
Symptoms of COVID-19 or Coronavirus
According to CDC reports, patients infected with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe fever symptoms, shortness of breath and coughing. These symptoms often begin to manifest between two and 14 days after exposure.
Patients who have experienced acute symptoms tend to have pneumonia in both lungs. Consequently, the virus has been much more dangerous to those individuals, and in some cases, becoming fatal.
The CDC is urging all those who have similar symptoms and have recently traveled to China to call their health care provider. Additionally, they are providing tips for how to act in case of an infection.
How Does COVID-19 Spread?
Health officials have yet to understand the nature of the nCoV fully. This also includes the way it’s spreading among people. With that said, it is safe to assume that it spread in similar ways to SARS and MERS, since all viruses belong to the same family. The CDC agency suspects that the main culprits are sneezes and coughs.
Do You Need to Be Worried?
The answer to this question can vary depending on where you live. If you live in China, then you should probably be more alert. With that said, the U.S. population, in general, is relatively safe from the virus. So, unless you’ve come into close contact with someone from Wuhan, or someone who has been infected, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
The only thing you have to keep in mind is that no matter where you are, you should always keep an eye on the state of the outbreak.
Are Older Adults More at Risk?
So far, collected data has shown that older adults tend to be hit harder than the younger population. This is further reinforced by the fact that the majority of people who have died from the coronavirus are over the age of 50, according to the Bloomberg reports. Furthermore, a New England Journal of Medicine study analyzed the first 425 infected people and found that the average age of the patients was 59 years old.
Amesh Adalja, M.D., who is an infection disease physician and a senior scholar at the John Hopkins University Center Health Security, stated that this was no surprise since older people tend to be less resilient, which puts them at a higher risk than others.
Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Respiratory Diseases, reassures people that the agency is trying its best to make sure that the elderly, as well as people with underlying health issues, have access to optimal care in case they become infected with the coronavirus.
Is There a Treatment for COVID-19?
As of the time of writing this article, there is no treatment to cure COVID-19, and the used medications are used only to relieve symptoms of the disease. However, treatment is being worked on by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in tandem with private sector partners.
Is There a Vaccine for Coronavirus?
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine as of yet. Researchers are working on the development of antiviral drugs. However, this will probably take months to bear fruit.
Are Face Masks Helpful?
When it comes to face masks, experts recommend a snug-fitting N95 respirator, which blocks large-particle droplets as well as most small particles that might be transmitted by sneezes and coughs. These face masks can be found at most home improvement outlets and drugstores.
Should I Avoid Animals?
While China recommends avoiding animals, the CDC has stated that there is no cause for concern when it comes to pets and animals in the U.S.
Here’s a great video that explains everything you need to know about COVID-19:
How Do I Protect Myself from COVID-19?
The best way to avoid contracting the coronavirus is to avoid exposure. The CDC advises people to avoid any trips to China unless absolutely necessary.
With that said, there are also some habits that health officials are recommending, which can greatly help. Keep in mind that these tips are not only useful in the case of the coronavirus, but they can also be applied to almost any type of infectious disease.
Start with Good Hygiene
Naturally, the best way to avoid disease is to keep the germs away. This can be done by adopting good hygiene habits. Here’s what you can do to prevent infection and keep it from spreading to others
- It is crucial that you wash your hands well. Make sure you wash them before preparing or eating food. It is also recommended to wash your hands after dirty tasks such as gardening. If possible, wash your hands after sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose, or coming into contact with your pet. Make sure you properly wash your hands by covering them in soap and meticulously rubbing the backs and palms of your wrists and hands. Additionally, make sure you keep your fingertips and nails clean.
- Make sure to cover your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough. Use a tissue to do so and quickly dispose of it afterward. If you don’t have one at your disposal, cover your mouth with your elbow instead of your hands.
- Treat any cuts properly by washing and bandaging them. If the cut is deep or serious, have it examined by a doctor.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils, glasses, dishes, towels, napkins, or any other items used by others.
Practice Good Food-Safety Techniques
Even though the majority of food-borne infections are not serious, there are some situations where it can lead to severe medical conditions such as meningitis and kidney failure. These infections can be prevented by safely preparing and storing foods. Follow the next precautions to avoid having harmful microbes in your food:
- Meticulously wash your hands before you handle raw food.
- Make sure that you only defrost foods in the microwave or the refrigerator
- Last but not least, make sure you’re vaccinated. Vaccines are crucial to staying healthy as they can help you stay healthy and increase your immunity. There are numerous infections that can be easily prevented by immunization. Even though vaccines can leave you with a sore arm or a low fever, these are generally minor side effects that mean that your body is adapting and fighting the disease.
Make Sure Health Care Providers Clean Their Hands or Wear Gloves
Given the work nature of doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, it’s safe to assume that they come into contact with a lot of viruses and bacteria. Knowing this, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your health care provider if they have washed their hands before treating you. This simple thing can be very helpful and can prevent unnecessary infections that are otherwise avoidable.
Additionally, make sure that the gloves that they’re using a clean. Performing tasks such as treating wounds, taking blood, or examinations require clean gloves.
Cover Your Mouth and Nose
Since most diseases, including COVID-19, spread via coughs and sneezes, make sure you cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Moreover, don’t forget to use a tissue and throw it away after you use it, and then clean your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow rather than your hands.
Avoid Close Contact with Others, Especially When You’re Sick
If you’re sick, you should avoid going outside and stay home. Not only will you be preventing the spread of disease, but you’ll also be doing your body a favor by giving it the rest it needs to heal. If you notice symptoms of the COVID-19 infection, make sure to check with a healthcare provider immediately.
Other safety tips can be found in this video: