What is COVID-19?

Covid-19 a.k.a. Coronavirus has been identified as the root cause of a complex respiratory disorder, the first cases of which were detected in the capital of China’s Hubei Province, Wuhan. During the early stages of the outbreak, there had been some citing Wuhan’s large-scale seafood market as the source - pointing towards the transmission of the virus by physical contact from animals to people. Since then, however, much has transpired and many of those infected have not been exposed to these animal markets - strongly suggesting that infection is occurring because of physical contact between people. Coronavirus gets its name from the Latin word for crown - Corona - due to its characteristic crown-shape when seen under a microscope.

How is the Virus Passed On?

The latest data from virologic and epidemiological sources about Covid-19 states that the disease is overwhelmingly passed on by those carrying the virus through close contact with others. This can be via respiratory droplets in the air or by coming into physical contact with contaminated people, surfaces or objects. When someone coughs or sneezes, infectious droplets are expelled out into the air through the mouth and nose. These airborne droplets can enter the mouth, nose and even eyes of someone in the vicinity, closely matching the way in which flu-like viruses are typically spread.

In the majority of cases, if you are to become infected in this way, you’ll need to be within 6 feet of the person in question. There are a small number of cases in which contamination has occurred via aerosol transmission over longer distances when the droplets exist in closed spaces with no ventilation. There are also believed to be asymptomatic carriers in society that could potentially mean that they present a risk, even if they don’t appear to be ill. That said, The WHO have stated that the risk of this kind of scenario resulting in infection to someone new is “extremely low”.

How Pandemics Were Dealt With Before Coronavirus

Whilst the current pandemic might seem like an unprecedented threat to human life, it’s far from being the first one to occur. Throughout human history, there have been many instances of new illnesses spreading across the globe, with Cholera, Black Death, HIV, H1n1 (Swine Flu) and Spanish Flu all known to have killed tens of millions during their lifecycle. Each pandemic was combated in different ways, as different infection rates, transmission methods and environmental factors needed to be considered in each separate case. However, there is one common denominator in every pandemic in that social distancing and quarantine are both effective methods to be used in slowing the virus down. What’s also been learned is that surveillance is really important in determining how each person is affected by the virus, as is testing. We’re certainly not the first people in history to encounter the chaos of a pandemic and we likely won’t be the last either. Understanding how each virus behaves is key to creating tools to suppress it and the knowledge gained from each pandemic from history has better armed us to deal with the next one. We would perhaps not have dealt with Covid-19 as well as we have without the body of research that existed beforehand.

10 Current Common Misconceptions About Covid-19

As often happens during major events like the Coronavirus outbreak, there are a number of falsehoods circulating. Here we look at some of the myths that need busting for the sake of everyone’s health.

Myth #1 - Mosquitos carry Covid-19 - Incorrect. There is no evidence to support this theory.

Myth #2 - Covid-19 Can’t be transmitted in Countries With Hot Climates - Incorrect. Coronavirus can be spread in all the ways mentioned, regardless of heat or humidity.

Myth #3 - Hand Dryers kill Covid-19 - Incorrect. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is the only recommended way to kill Coronavirus on your hands.

Myth #4 - Cold weather kills Covid-19 - Incorrect. As with heat, cold does nothing to eliminate the virus.

Myth #5 - UV lamps should be used to decontaminate your skin - Incorrect. Only specific types of UV light are known to have any effect and exposure to UV light could cause skin irritation and damage.

Myth #6 - The standard flu jab protects you against Covid-19 - Incorrect. Whilst the viruses have similarities, they are not interchangeable and a standard flu jab offers no protection against Coronavirus.

Myth #7 - Only old and sick people are at risk - Incorrect. Whilst those with existing health conditions are more at risk, that doesn’t mean Covid-19 isn’t a threat to young,healthy people.

Myth #8 - You can catch Covid-19 from your pets. Incorrect. There have been instances where dogs and cats have caught the virus, it’s not currently believed to be able to be transmitted from animals to humans.

Myth #9 - Facemasks provide 100% protection against Coronavirus. Incorrect. Facemasks can be effective against droplets when they’re fitted tightly around the face, but they provide no protection against aerosolized particles.

Myth #10 - You can easily catch Covid-19 from contaminated parcels. Incorrect. There is a very low risk that you could catch Coronavirus from your post, as the virus has a poor survivability rate on the packaging that spends days or weeks being shipped in ambient temperatures.

What’s the Best Way to Protect Myself?

So, now we’ve looked at some of the most common misconceptions in circulation about Covid-19, what’s the best way to protect me and my family. Overwhelmingly, the advice given out by organisations by the CDC and WHO centres around effective handwashing.

A minimum of 20 seconds of handwashing should be carried out:

● Before preparing or eating food

● Before and after dealing with a wound or a cut

● After going to the toilet

● After sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose

● After touching rubbish bags

● Before and after providing care for someone who has diarrhea and sickness

● After changing nappies/diapers

It’s also suggested that alcohol-based hand sanitisers need to be at least 60% proof by volume when used instead of soap and water.

Using Your Mask Properly It’s important to understand how to wear a mask and also how to dispose of it when you’re done. There is a recommended method which is detailed in steps, below.

Step 1 - Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water before putting on your mask

Step 2 - As you put your mask over your mouth and nose, ensure that there are no gaps between the mask and your face.

Step 3 - Once in place, avoid touching the mask whilst you’re wearing it.

Step 4 - You should never use a single-use mask more than once and you should replace the one you’re wearing once it becomes damp.

Step 5 - When removing your mask, you should never touch the front of it. Instead, you should remove it from behind and then dispose of it before washing your hands - again with soap and water or the appropriate strength of hand sanitiser.

Symptoms That You Have Coronavirus

It’s really important to know the signs that you’ve been infected with Covid-19, as it will then guide your future actions. You should be looking for the following symptoms:

● Fever (Temperature above 37.8C)

● Prolonged fatigue

● Tightness in the chest or persistent cough

● Myalgia (muscle pain)

● Dyspnoea (breathing difficulties)

There are new symptoms being suggested all the time from various sources, but these are the main ones that point towards Coronavirus infection. If you have any of these symptoms, read on to find out more about what to do next.

What To Do If You Think You’re Infected

When you are displaying symptoms of infection, it’s highly recommended that you remain at home for a period of self-isolation - 7 days from when you first developed the symptoms. You should also notify your local healthcare provider who will be able to advise accordingly, however, you’ll be told not to go to work, school or any other type of public area - including public transport and private hire cabs. This period should be extended to 14 days for those who have either recently returned from a country with a high transmission rate. This is also the case for someone who isn’t yet infected but has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case.

Managing The Illness

When you become symptomatic with Covid-19, you can alleviate your symptoms with non-prescription medication and plenty of fluids. If you have a particularly severe case, you could need help with your breathing and this is one of the occasions when it’s recommended to go to the hospital. Work is being carried out tirelessly to find a vaccine, but as of yet, there is no cure for Coronavirus. It’s not even certain that a vaccine will be found due to the complexity of the illness, however, if and when a breakthrough is achieved, it’s certain to be headline news. Until then, simply follow all of the guidance we’ve given here.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe.