There’s quite a lot of information circulating about the new coronavirus that first showed up in December of 2019 in China. Some of the information is correct. Some of it has led to people stockpiling everyday items as fear about the pandemic spreads. To ensure that you don’t become like the Janetzki family from Australia who purchased 2,304 rolls of toilet paper, perhaps it is time to become a little more familiar with what COVID-19 actually is!
The World Health Organization has developed an informative video that will take about 4.5 minutes of your life but will give you some much needed clarity about the virus. The highlights include history about the virus and possible methods of contractions.
That’s right! Just “possible methods” of contraction because the virus is new enough that not enough research exists to be sure about the way the virus is transmitted. However, based on the history of other coronaviruses (like SARS and MERS), transmission is likely from one person to another by the transfer of respiratory droplets. The most common ways to come into contact with another person’s respiratory droplets are through uncovered sneezes and coughs of an infected person. Proximity is a factor here, and you probably need to be fairly close together to actually contract the virus.
This is supported by what we know so far: the main people who have contracted COVID-19 are within the same families (who share living space) and healthcare workers (who come into close contact with those infected).
So if you’ve watched the video and stayed with me this far, you have to be wondering about the stockpiling and run on hand sanitizer, right? What’s the big deal?
Sick people, whether with a virus, infection, or allergies, who sneeze or cough, should cover their sneeze or cough with a tissue. In the absence of tissues (the next item to start stockpiling?), sneeze into your sleeve; preferably at or above your elbow.
People who aren’t sick should…
wait for it…
avoid sick people; shocking as that might be!
It seems simple, but with all the information (true and false) circulating in our communities, there’s just an extra layer of precaution needed.
- There’s no cure. Treatment isn’t to kill the virus, but to help the patient’s body survive it.
- There’s no vaccine. Researchers are working on it, but these things take time.
- Stay home if you’re sick, and if you’re well, avoid people who aren’t.
- Diligently wash your hands, and just like with avoiding the flu, try not to touch your mouth or nose. This can cause you to inadvertently deposit viruses and bacteria from your hands into your body.
- Avoid enclosed spaces with large crowds. Outdoor spaces are probably safer if you’re gathering, and the decent weather we’ve been having makes this much more appealing than being inside anyway!
- If you have concerns about contracting the virus or think a family member might have, you can contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) at 877-435-8411. This is the number for a hotline set up to specifically address the COVID-19 pandemic. It is open 24 hours a day until the virus is better under control.