How normal was life just a few months ago, when the world was not in fear of a vicious pandemic? As we are experiencing the effects of this new pandemic, by the name COVID-19, people all over the world are in a great state of panic, while their lives have been disrupted to a considerable extent from work, education, transportation, health, finance etc. This novel pathogen is considered a potentially fatal coronavirus with person to person transmission, thus people are in a great state of anxiety due to the lack of control over the situation. In a move to encourage what’s known as social distancing, cafes, restaurants, gyms, museums, schools and other institutions across the world have closed; public gatherings like religious services and business, social and sporting events have been cancelled. Further, as the virus continues to infect people all over the world, there is a flow of misinformation that is reaching people, which is quite dangerous. The most credible information can be found at, ‘World Health Organization’ and the scientists are working on developing their knowledge of this virus in order to respond effectively to it.
According to WHO, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
What symptoms should I look out for?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How is the new coronavirus transmitted?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
According to a study done in Germany, infected people may be able to pass on the new coronavirus even if they have few symptoms.
How can I protect myself?
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
Is there a Vaccine?
Scientists all over the world are working at a breakneck pace at the moment. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and several companies are working on vaccine candidates, however researchers would still need to conduct extensive testing to prove a vaccine was safe and effective, thus Coronavirus vaccine is still months away.
Moreover, Scientists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and at the Pasteur Institute in Paris have already begun to test the drugs against the coronavirus growing in their labs and Scientists in Australia say they have identified how the body’s immune system fights the Covid-19 virus; their research, published in Nature Medicine journal, shows people are recovering from the new virus like they would from the flu.
Meanwhile, the WHO is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and compiling it in a database. They are constantly updating the database daily from searches from bibliographic databases, hand searches of the table of contents of relevant journals, and the addition of other relevant scientific articles.
Why Social Distancing Measures are so Important
The experts have agreed that the spread of COVID-19 cannot be stopped, it can be slowed down significantly by measures currently summed up under the term “social distancing”. By limiting human contact, the transmission rate can be reduced significantly. Furthermore, some countries are even opting for lockdown or have imposed curfew, including Sri Lanka. However, living under such conditions for a lengthy period can take its toll on the people affected. Aside from fear of infection and boredom, studies show living in isolation can produce post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion and frustration. These feelings can be aggravated by inadequate supplies and financial loss. To keep negative feelings to a minimum, it is important that people are occupied during quarantine or self-isolation and that they have adequate supplies available.
Some activities can hopefully make the quarantine more tolerable and for some this time could be a truly inspirational time in their lives, where they may rediscover themselves.
- Phone a friend; check up on your loved ones
- Get ahead of your studies
- Learn a new language
- Redecorate your room
- Practice mindfulness
- Get creative
- Netflix – Binge watch
- Work out at home.
- Read books that you’ve intended to but just didn’t have time.
- Cook/bake something that you would be proud of.
Most importantly, children may be left feeling vulnerable and confused during this time, thus it is advisable to talk to children and encourage them to express their feelings; let them know that they are safe and in a supportive environment. Try to maintain a familiar routine and engage in creative activities, such as playing and drawing, while they are at home.
What we are experiencing right now is truly a global problem and one that requires serious solutions. Therefore, it is important that we abide by the instructions by the health-care professionals and other authorities during this crucial time. The best thing for us to do right now is to self-isolate and adhere to the necessary precautions.