How to protect yourself against the Coronavirus
A comprehensive analysis of covid and steps to protect yourself
What is Coronavirus
A key aspect towards understanding the Coronavirus pandemic, is to scrutinize the nature of the virus itself. Coronavirus is an RNA [Ribonucleic acid] virus, that hijacks and interrupts the replication process of your genetic information, in order to replicate itself in a hostile takeover of the body.
Your genetic information is responsible for the proteins that initiate cellular regeneration, which is critical for you health and normal biological function, so interrupting the process is a VERY big deal and not in a good way.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. , and the mortality rate which is at about 2.0% and rising, is causing alarm around the world. The seasonal flu in comparison is at about 0.1% and 0.2% annually, hence declaration of virus as a pandemic.
Coronavirus gets its name from the shape of the proteins surrounding the virus, that is shaped like a crown; “Corona” is the latin name for crown and comes from an extended family of viruses called SARS.
SARS is prevalent in birds and animals, and can cause a host of diseases. In humans, it compromises the respiratory tract, leading to illnesses from the mild flu, to the more serious pneumonia.
COVID-19 originates from the SARS family, but has never been encountered by humans before, and therefore considered extremely dangerous, which has led to the global lockdown, in order to contain the spread.
The incubation period especially is the real danger because it can take up to 2-14 days to develop, during which it continues to be highly contagious. This means that asymptomatic people who appear healthy and have no symptoms can unwittingly spread the virus across a larger population, as has been the case.
This is why it is critical people pay attention in understanding the Coronavirus pandemic and how it impacts them.
How does coronavirus spread
Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads through droplets from breathing, coughing or speaking in proximity to others and this is what makes it easy to transfer from one person to another. Everyone naturally exhales tiny respiratory droplets when talking, so a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing would naturally accelerate the spread.
Other ways through which the virus can spread include touching surface where the virus droplets reside and then touching your face, specifically nose, eyes or mouth.
There are mixed results as to whether the virus is airborne, but this is currently inconclusive.
What happens when you're infected
Coronavirus causes the disease, COVID-19, and operates at the cellular level by infecting healthy cells in the body and then replicating itself in a bid to overwhelm the body’s defenses. The crown-like protein latches on to receptors in the human body, which for this particular virus resides in the throat and lungs.
So if you inhale droplets from a sick person or touch infected surfaces, and then touch your face, you run the risk of introducing the virus into the vulnerable mucus membrane of the nose, eyes, mouth, or ears.
The symptoms can take anywhere from 2-14 days to develop, after which the period of illness begins, as your immune system and COVID-19 battle for supremacy.
The illness can take anywhere from 4 to 21 days, and ends in recovery or fatality, depending on the individual’s immune system.
covid-19 statistics and death toll
Generally, most cases are predominantly mild, compared to death rates which stands at 3%.
- No of Infected – 1,753,504
- Mild Condition – 1, 695,194 (97%)
- Serious or Critical – 58,310 (3%)
coronavirus incubation period
+The incubation period of Coronavirus is estimated to last between 1-14 days
+On average symptoms emerge at the 4-5 day mark
+ Once the disease is full blown, a minimum isolation period of 14 days is recommended, but your primary care physician should determine when it’s best.
identifying Coronavirus Symptoms
Symptoms from a Coronavirus infection can be similar to that of the seasonal flu, and varies between people, but will generally include 3 distinct observable conditions namely;
3. Dry Cough
For most people, this is the most they will experience before the immune system adapts and overcomes the virus, without requiring any particular treatment. This is also why some equate Coronavirus to the flu, but it certainly isn’t, especially when symptoms deteriorate further into the following;
4. Achy joints
5. Consistent Headaches
6. Back pain
Beyond this point, URGENT MEDICAL CARE IS RECOMMENDED and you must contact your doctor immediately if you experience the following;
7. A loss of sense of smell & taste suggests a spread of the virus to the lungs.
8. Difficulty breathing – is the most severe symptom of the virus, and signals an attack of in the lungs.
Without medical intervention, complications can escalate dramatically and fatality iss possible.
While the more severe symptoms have been found to occur predominantly in patients with underlying health issues, this is not exclusive and even perfectly healthy individuals have suffered from acute illnesses and fatalities.
Who is vulnerable to Coronavirus
The safest approach is to assume that everyone is.
Contracting the Coronavirus is only a first step, before it develops into the COVID-19 disease, which is the part that has devastated vast areas of the word, especially, China, Italy and the United States.
Nobody is immune as far as anyone knows, and even though this is an old virus,the Coronavirus -SARS-COV2 is a new strain, that nobody has EVER encountered both in the medical and scientific worlds.
However, the data accumulated so far, suggests that some demographic groups are more susceptible to the Coronavirus than others;
HIGH RISK GROUP
- Older people from 65 years and upwards; the higher the number, the more severe.
- Anyone with underlying health issues, especially Asthma because it is a respiratory condition, but also include diabetes, heart disease, high blood Pressure and cancer .
- As of March 2020, smokers were initially classified to be an extremely vulnerable group to COVID-19 and advised to quit, but a recent study in France, is exploring the potential benefit of Nicotine in preventing or at least minimizing the effect of the disease. The general consensus is that while Nicotine might have some benefits, smoking is still considered a high risk vulnerability.
It does not appear that the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted any particular demographic differently. with the evidence suggesting that “ALL” are vulnerable to the virus. However, the illness from the full blown COVID-19 disease, appears to differ between the groups as follows;
The most vulnerable age groups are 75+ years age group , making up almost half of the death rate, with the 65 – 74 and 45-64 year old age group almost matching each other with 24.6% and 23.1% respectively.
There is a sharp drop in mortality with everyone else under 45 years of age, accounting for under 5% of the mortality rate.
Coronavirus in CHILDREN
Considering the highly infectious nature of the Coronavirus, it is fortunate that children seem to be the least impacted. While they make up 0.04% of death rates, reports suggest that children are more adapted to the virus than adults.
Coronavirus in ANIMALS & PETS
The risk to animals was unknown till early April 2020, when a tiger in a Bronx zoo tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, additional tigers, two dogs and a cat have also tested positive, prompting the CDC to issue an advisory regarding pets and other animals.
A compromised immune system or poor respiratory health should always be given priority attention.
How Coronavirus Affects the Body
- The most susceptible area on the body is essentially your face and specifically the nose. The inside of the nose contains the subcutaneous layer of the skin, a sensitive pinkish membrane that is permeable and a susceptible area. Unwashed hands, sneezes, or droplets can easily transport the virus to these vulnerable areas.
- The receptors for Coronavirus are located in the respiratory system, consisting of the nose, throat, and lungs, but the main receptors are located in the lungs.
- Some receptors are present in the throat, which the first place the virus attacks before proceeding to the lungs, where it can completely overwhelm the body’s breathing apparatus. This is why sore throats and shortness of breath are key symptoms once infection has occurred.
- Once inside a host, the virus replicates, initiating an immunological response from the body which produces antibodies to fight back. How mild or severe the illness becomes from this point onward will vary between people and the efficiency of their immune system.
- Sometimes, and especially in severe cases, a “Cytokine Storm” which is an overreaction of the immune response, can occur, attacking the body’s own cells, and compromising patients further.
- Because the mouth can also be used for breathing and shares a common pathway with the respiratory system, it is also vulnerable to introducing the virus, especially in the throat area, where some COVID-19 receptors reside.
How to treat coronavirus infections
Once infected, there are variety of options to choose from, but officially, there are no specifically approved treatments for treating COVID-19. A series of vaccines and treatments are being researched by a combination of government and private industries.
For most of the population, symptoms are mild and dissipate after the a couple of weeks and in cases like this, self-care and self-isolation are recommended, coupled with the general guidelines below.
- Drink lots of fluids, preferably water and hot beverages which can help in alleviating sore throats. The Coronavirus is sensitive to heat and warmth, so consuming hot or acidic drinks and beverages like warm water, Tea, Coffee, Apple Cider Vinegar can help.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep, to recuperate and give the body a chance to respond to the infection
- Be active – Resist the urge to lie down and accept the illness, despite the joint pain and tiredness. It is imperative to include as much physical activity as possible; if nothing else, to overcome the psychological battle COVID-19 weighs on it’s victims.
- Fuel your body through healthy foods
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs that may hinder your recovery
- If safe enough, get outside and get some sun for some much need Vitamin D to boost your immune system
Practicing self-isolation separates an infected person from other people and prevents the spread of the virus, which can start a community spread.
When self-isolating, and where possible, it is important to restrict the involvement of the infected party with household activity by;
- Isolating them in a designated room where they will be for the rest of their isolation period. Obviously, availing electronic equipment like phones, Tv or computers to help them pass time, would be ideal
- Use a mask and gloves, when communicating or exchanging any items with the patient, and instantly disinfect afterwards.
- Monitor and record the infected person’s vitals to identify fever spikes, blood pressure issues, or weight changes. You can use simple products like;
Quarantine for Patients
Quarantine is similar to isolation, but in this case, is done regardless except that the same process is adopted even though the patient maybe asymptomatic, having been exposed to the virus.
Prevention tips and how to protect yourself and family
To prevent exposure to the Coronavirus, and infection from COVID-19, there are basic precautions that must be taken to protect yourself and your family, and stop community spread. Some examples are:
- Washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as an alternative
- Avoid touching your face
- Cough/sneeze into your elbows or tissue rather your hands
- Practice how to keep a safe distance of about 6ft or more from others, especially if they are sneezing or coughing
- Stay home, especially if you feel unwell
- If you venture outside, avoid crowds and gatherings
- You can boost your immune system by exercising, getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, meditating, and limit exposure to news and social media
- Contact your doctor if you show any symptoms.
protecting your family at home
Assuming you have avoided the Coronavirus up till this point, and are now safely at home with your family, following isolation instructions and are in good health, then you might wonder, What now?
Regardless of the lockdown, it is inevitable that we will interact with a member/s of the public at some point, simply because our communities have not transitioned to a complete online platform and there is still dependency on physical markets and enterprise.
There are multiple reasons why some of us are still out despite the lockdown, like procuring medications from pharmacies, to grocery shopping, being an essential worker or just have no choice due to economic reasons;
Whatever the reason, there are essential tips and guidelines that could help you avoid contracting the virus, despite mingling with the public and some of them are listed below;
First, you must put your household in order by creating, and maintaining a daily routine and schedule that enables you retain some semblance of night and day and keep everyone functional and productive.
Blurring the lines can lead to sleep and eating disruptions, which can manifest into boredom or apathy, which impacts the alertness within the household. An uncoordinated family unit, that lacks collective focus is NOT ideal while facing an unprecedented pandemic. Your immune system could also be compromised from living recklessly or non-nonchalantly, which can create situations for illness to occur.
If nothing else, consider the advantage of having a well rehearsed, disciplined and organized household that can monitor itself, and then identify and resolve potential danger before it happens.
Literally sterilize your entire house by bring spring-cleaning forward. Pay close attention to areas where the family communes like the living room, kitchen, guest bathrooms, chairs, beds, etc.
Your skin and clothes are also potential carriers, so make your home a COVID-19 neutral zone by separating clothing and shoes for inside and outside the home, selecting a designated safe area for collection and laundry.
Also, showering any time you leave the enclosure of the house is recommended.
Having converted your home into a virus free zone, practicing strict social distancing and self-isolation, will help maintain the sanctity of your home sterilization and reinforce instinctual habits that help you maintain your health and safety.
Try the following home guidelines;
- Having made your home secure and safe, DO NOT allow visitors in, instead utilizing technological gadgets to continue all social relationship. If you desperately need to physically see your neighbors, call them to their window to engage.
- Depending on the size of your home, try to maintain social distancing for 14 days anytime someone leaves the house. This may be difficult with children, but is necessary for their safety. Separate everyone into different rooms as much as possible
- Ensure that hugs and embraces are minimal, and if you must hug , do so with the face on the shoulder, away from each other and not for prolonged periods.
- Avoid talking directly into faces like children tend to
- Children tend to emulate adults, so find creative ways to describe the pandemic to them, so they adopt the safety mentality for themselves. Also avoid talking directly into faces like children tend to.
Obviously, not everything listed is possible, so do what you can.
Anytime someone leaves the home is risk and potential to contract the virus, or even worse, bring it back home with them, so in order to maintain the clean, safe environment you have created, adopt the following rules strictly.
Leaving the House resets the clock.
- leaving your household and visiting a public place resets the obligatory 14-day isolation period, automatically restarting the proposed quarantine period from scratch. This compels you and your household to control movement and plan ahead of schedule, keeping outgoings to a minimum. Use a calendar to mark the dates for thoroughness.
2. Returning Home
- When returning to the home, adopt the following strategies
- Identify the member/s of the household that will run errands on behalf of everyone else.
- This person will use the same clothes for leaving the house and remove them as soon as they are back within living quarters. Ideally, leaving them beside the front door in a bag.
- On returning to the house, clean or sanitize the areas of the car that has been utilized, like car seats, steering wheel, gear stick, glove compartment, headrest.
- Clean your shoes, wallets, and phones with a sanitizer wipe, and leave as much as you can by the door in a bag, keeping it away from communal areas.
- Food order containers should be cleaned with sanitizer wipes, and the content reheated before ingesting
- When and if possible, order food or groceries to limit movement outside, and ensure that you wash your hands and clean food appropriately.
- Place hand sanitizers in strategic places that people may need them urgently. A good place is beside the front door, where the outside meets the interior of your home, to ensure there is a fail safe for people that may need it.
- Identify the member/s of the household that will run errands on behalf of everyone else.
Lastly, it is possible that we may never have downtime like this again, so pick a new skill, craft, or something you’ve always wanted to do, and use the time to learn and immerse yourself. Just remember to do so indoors.