It has been a scary time lately for many people around the world with many places now in lockdown like we are here in the UK. When I first started hearing about COVID-19 I wasn’t sure what to think. Was it just a flu? Was it a biological weapon released from China? I was reading all kinds of ridiculous comments on social media that I am sure did nothing to help those that were already in a state of panic.
The media, as usual played on the fear of the people by releasing only the figures of those that died and not of those that went on to recover. They would use titles such as “died with the symptoms of the Coronavirus” knowing that readers would assume that those people died of Covid-19 which in many cases just wasn’t true. They could have died from other things but they also carried those symptoms which as we already know are also the symptoms of other things too. (see below)
Now, I am not saying that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about because at the time of writing this there has been supposedly over 1 million confirmed cases worldwide. I do not know how they get these figures when the appropriate testing for COVID-19 is not yet in place. Most of those will go on to fully recover but I’m probably not supposed to let you know that. Anyway, we wanted to look at some of the most common questions raised about Covid-19 for our readers here at UK Survival Guides.
- 1 What is Covid-19?
- 2 What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
- 3 Who is Most at Risk for COVID-19?
- 4 What is the Incubation Period of COVID-19?
- 5 How is COVID-19 Spread?
- 6 Is COVID-19 Zoonotic?
- 7 Is There a Vaccine for COVID-19?
- 8 What is the Treatment for COVID-19?
- 9 How to Prevent a COVID-19 Spread?
- 10 Are Face Masks Effective Against COVID-19?
- 11 Final Words
What is Covid-19?
The Chinese public health authorities reported several cases of acute respiratory syndrome in Wuhan city towards the end of December 2019. According to this article on the South China Morning Post, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 traces back to November 17 2019.
The main causative agent was found to be a novel coronavirus. We now refer to that disease as coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 for short. The causative virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The reason that we are having a hard time putting a stop to the rapid spread is because we haven’t identified this particular strain before in humans. Although it was first identified in China (this does NOT mean that they created it), it has since rapidly spread worldwide.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
I mentioned above that the symptoms of COVID-19 are the same as other illnesses and here I just wanted to share what those symptoms actually are so that you don’t read into everything the media says as factual. The common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
You may also experience the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Some people that have tested positive for COVID-19 have also said that they lost their sense of smell or taste although this doesn’t seem to be a common symptom.
Just because you may experience any of the above symptoms, I hope you are smart enough to know that it doesn’t automatically mean that you have COVID-19. People who are older or who have existing chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, or who have compromised immune systems may be at higher risk of serious illness which would also be the case with any other respiratory disease. In a very few cases, the symptoms have progressed to pneumonia and multi-organ failure.
- If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.
- If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.
- If you get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days.
- If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.
Who is Most at Risk for COVID-19?
Being more at risk does not just necessarily mean that you can catch the virus easier than others but that those who catch the virus can go on to be hit worse than others. Those that are most at risk are “at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus”, according to government guidance. There are generally four risk groups which are:
- The elderly (over 70)
- Those with underlyunderlying health conditions which includes those with a long-term respiratory or lung disease, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), those with a long-term heart disease, like heart failure, those with long-term kidney disease, those with a long-term liver disease, like hepatitis, those with diabetes, those with long-term neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, or a learning disability. This also includes those with problems with their spleen like sickle cell anaemia, those with a weakened immune system, and those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above (being severely obese).
- Pregnant women.
- People with complex health conditions such as those who have had an organ transplant and take medication to suppress their immune system, those who have cancer and are currently having active chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment, those who have blood or bone marrow cancer (like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) and are at any stage of treatment, those who have severe respiratory/lung conditions like cystic fibrosis or severe asthma that requires admission to hospital or treatment with corticosteroids, and those who have severe diseases of the body systems, like severe kidney disease that is managed with regular dialysis.
What is the Incubation Period of COVID-19?
When you hear the term ‘incubation period’ it refers to the time between catching the virus and the time the symptoms start to develop. While the incubation period is generally around five days, it can be anywhere between the range of 1-14 days.
How is COVID-19 Spread?
Due to COVID-19 still being a new disease to humans, there is still a lot that we don’t know, including every way in which it spreads. It is believed that the disease is primarily spread from person-to-person although it can also be spread when a person comes into contact with a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose, and possibly even the eyes. In terms of person-to-person spreading, the CDC has the following to share:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
- Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Is COVID-19 Zoonotic?
While there is no evidence of a COVID-19 infection spreading from one animal to another, current evidence does suggest that COVID-19 started from an animal source yet as of yet, that source and species is still unknown. Genetic sequence data reveals that the COVID-19 virus is a close relative of other CoV found circulating in Rhinolophus bat (Horseshoe Bat) populations.
In terms of animals becoming infected from humans, we must take into account that there is a real possibility due to the virus now being so widely distributed. There have been cases of family pets testing positive for COVID-19 however, there is no evidence that those pets can then spread the virus further.
Is There a Vaccine for COVID-19?
At this time, there are no specific vaccines for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.
What is the Treatment for COVID-19?
There is not currently a cure for COVID-19 or a vaccine against coronavirus. The aim of treatment is to manage and reduce symptoms until you have recovered. Those infected persons with mild symptoms can usually treat themselves at home although anybody with severe symptoms will need medical care until they are fully recovered. The NHS suggests the following for self-care at home:
- rest and sleep
- drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
- take paracetamol to lower your temperature
How to Prevent a COVID-19 Spread?
Like any other virus, there are some very simple steps that you can take to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with COVID-19.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often and do so for at least 20 seconds
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze and put the used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands
- Stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus
You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home
Are Face Masks Effective Against COVID-19?
The following advice is from the World Health Organization regarding the use of masks.
- If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
There are a lot of myths surfacing about what works and what doesn’t against the COVID-19 virus amongst other things which you can read u on what is right and what isn’t over at the WHO page here. Please do not just follow any given advice that you read on social media but check it over and do your research to know whether it is factual.