As the number of cases of COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) continues to climb across the world, the level of concern, fear and uncertainty amongst the general public increases. With numerous media reports of infection, severe illness and even death discussed daily, it can be challenging to separate facts from fiction. This article will help outline what to focus on,  and provide you with some steps to take to protect yourself and those around you. 

 

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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease, with the number 19 representing the fact that the disease was first identified in 2019. This infectious respiratory disease was first discovered in Wuhan, China and has made its way around the world in the last several weeks.

 

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

Some of the more common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • dry cough
  • high fever
  • fatigue

Other symptoms include:

  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion
  • diarrhea
  • body aches

Some people may be infected with the disease and not  experience any symptoms. 

 

How Do I Protect Myself from COVID-19?

COVID-19 can be spread through contact with those who have the illness. Droplets are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, which may then come in contact with people nearby. These droplets can also land on nearby surfaces, which can then infect someone who touches those surfaces and then her/his nose, mouth, or eyes. But some steps can be taken to help minimize the risk.

Wash Your Hands: An essential measure to take when trying to prevent illness is washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. A good rule of thumb is to continue rubbing and lathering your hands while reciting the “Happy Birthday” song in your head twice in a row. This will ensure that you have effectively removed contaminates you may have been exposed to.

If you are on the go and don’t have access to washing your hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a suitable alternative until you have access to soap and water.

Hands off of your face: Touching your face, especially when you have touched other surfaces, puts you at risk of getting sick. Touching an infected surface, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth can introduce the virus into your system. 

Steer clear: If someone you know has or has been exposed to COVID-19 and is experiencing symptoms, it is recommended that you try and stay at least one meter away from them. Keeping a distance minimizes the  exposure through sick individual’s droplets.

Stay home: Staying at home to recover when you’re ill is not only good for you and your recovery, it also considers the health of your co-workers, those you share public transit with, etc. Staying at home eliminates the chances of spreading the infection to others. The best thing you can do for yourself and others around you is to stay home and get better.

 

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Be considerate when you cough or sneeze: Sneezing into your bent elbow or directly into tissue is not only polite to those around you, but it also helps prevent the spread of any potential illnesses. The more we are mindful about how we cough or sneeze, the more we can help prevent the spread of sickness. 

Reconsider travel plans: If you have plans to travel soon, be sure to check  that your travel destination (or stop-over location) is on the list of areas most affected by COVID-19. If your travel destination is on the list, it is recommended that you reschedule your trip or forego it altogether, if at all possible. Going to an area that is highly affected by COVID-19 not only puts you at risk, but it puts the general public at risk if you pick up the virus while away and bring it home with you. 

 

What Should I Do If I Think I Have COVID-19

Many of the previously mentioned recommendations also apply if you believe you have, or may have been exposed to COVID-19. Staying home and trying your best to isolate yourself from others is a good start. Using separate bathrooms and sleeping on your own instead of with your partner also helps. 

While resting at home, monitor your symptoms carefully. If your symptoms start to worsen, including extreme fatigue, fever, and difficulty breathing, it may be time to seek assistance from a healthcare provider. Contacting the doctor’s office ahead of time is advisable, as there may be certain precautions they want to take before your arrival to ensure the safety of their staff and other patients. 

 

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To Mask, or Not to Mask?

With the increased news coverage of COVID-19, many people have taken to wearing face masks when out in public. People of all ages, both healthy and sick, can be found wearing these masks. But is it actually effective?

If you’re sick: If you are ill and have to leave your house to go to the doctor’s office, for example, wearing a mask may be a good idea. Wearing a mask will help reduce the chances of transmitting the disease to anyone else. 

If you’re not sick: Masks are not recommended for those who are not ill. The surgical masks often worn by individuals in public are not airtight, and therefore do not provide adequate protection against droplets. The best protection for people who are not sick and are attempting to avoid sickness is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Exceptions to this include healthcare workers and caregivers taking care of people who are sick. These groups of people may benefit from wearing a mask while actively performing their duties, even if they are not unwell.

It’s normal to be concerned about COVID-19 and the symptoms that go along with it. But if you follow the advice given in this article and take the appropriate precautionary measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of contracting this disease.

 

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