According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
The 2019 Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which is believed by health officials to have first originated from the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019, has now spread across the globe. WHO notes that cases of the COVID-19 have spread rapidly as health experts try to contain the situation.
WHO notes that Coronaviruses are most commonly passed between animals and people and from person to person. The source of the virus is believed to be animals, but the exact source is not yet known.
The virus is commonly passed:
- Directly, through contact with an infected person’s body fluids for example, droplets/sputum from coughing or sneezing
- Indirectly, through contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on
“Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.” – World Health Organization (WHO)
Health officials note that common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
WHO however advises on the following measure to reduce the risk of the infection:
- Wash your hands regularly
Cleaning your hands frequently by using alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water kills the virus that may exist on your hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
When sneezing it is important to cover your mouth and nose so as to avoid the sputum from jumping on to another person or to a surface.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth and ears is highly advised to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. This is because our hands are exposed to different surfaces, which may already have the virus. Once the contaminated hands touch your eyes, nose or mouth the virus can enter your body and infect you.
- Avoid close contact with anyone that has a fever, cough or flu-like symptoms
WHO recommends maintaining a distance of at least 1-meter (3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, has a fever or flu-like symptoms.
- Practice Self-isolation
Staying at home (self-isolate) is an effective precautionary measure to protect those around you from contracting COVID-19. Health organizations recommend a minimum of 14 days of isolation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Seek medical attention if temperature rises or you experience flu-like symptoms
If you experience flu-like symptoms, fever, cough or difficulty in breathing, seek immediate medical attention.
- Thorough cook your food specifically meat and eggs
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is passed on through food. Health officials note that Coronaviruses need a host (animal or human) to grow in and cannot grow in food. The public is however advised to thoroughly cook their foods especially meat product so as to kill any bacteria.
- Stay informed
Being proactive on the current whereabouts of COVID-19 enables one to be a step ahead on measures to contain the virus. Be on the look out of your national and local public health authority update on the virus.
Information courtesy: World Health Organization (WHO)