Coronavirus has caused huge health and economic issues across the globe, and has spread to nearly every country since it first emerged from China in January. Millions of people are living in quarantine, hundreds of thousands more have caught the virus, and the death toll still rising.
For more information on the impact of COVID-19, read our regularly updated blog.
Whilst some report mild symptoms, the virus can nasty, particularly deadly for the old and the vulnerable. Prevention is key, so here’s some key advice to protect yourself from COVID-19.
How to detect COVID-19
As tests are reserved for hospitalised patients and those in the most at-risk category, identifying symptoms can help distinguish COVID-19 from a common cold or other flu-like viruses. Of course, many people report differing symptoms, but overall there are some consistencies. For most people, the COVID-19 infection does not cause a cold nose or cough with cold, but it does create a dry and rough cough.
The virus is first detected in the throat, and patients report inflamed glands and a feeling of dryness. This symptom can last between 3 and 4 days. Typically it will then travel through the moisture present in the airways, down into to the trachea and into the lungs, causing pneumonia that lasts about 5 or 6 days.
At this stage, it can get serious. Pneumonia manifests with a high fever, difficulty breathing, and a choking sensation — a key symptom reported in COVID-19 patients. This is when a medical professional should be called immediately.
Experts suggest doing this simple verification every morning: Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for 10 seconds. If this can be done without coughing, without difficulty, this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating the absence of infection.
Prevention and elimination
The virus hates heat and dies once exposed to temperatures greater than 80°F (27°C). Sitting in the sunshine is recommended, as long as social distancing is still observed. There is some evidence that UV rays can kill the virus, and vitamin D boosts your immune system.
Hot liquids are easy to ingest, with soothing properties for the throat. Therefore, hot drinks such as infusions, broths or simply hot water should be consumed abundantly during the day. Inhaling steam over a bowl can also help, as can gargling with disinfectant solutions (i.e. Listerine).
Hydration is key in both prevention and treatment. Keep the mouth and throat wet, not dry, by sipping water at least every 15 minutes. Doctors have said to avoid drinking ice water or drinks with ice cubes as this can exacerbate the dry cough.
Taking precautions could save your life
It has been noted that the coronavirus is large in size, with a diameter of 400-500 nanometers. This means certain face masks can stop it, and these are particularly useful if you are feeling unwell and want to stop the spread to others in your household who may be vulnerable. Specialist face masks typically aren’t required for home use or in daily life.
If an infected person sneezes nearby, stay 10 feet (3.3 meters) away to allow the virus to disperse. Be aware — the virus can survive up to 72 hours on some hard surfaces. If items such as door handles, appliances, or railings are touched, hands should be washed thoroughly and/or disinfected with alcoholic gel. Dispose of all tissues immediately as the virus can live on these for between 6 to 12 hours. Common detergents can kill it, and items that cannot be washed should be exposed to the Sun and the virus will die.
In that time many things can happen, rubbing the eyes, touching the nose or lips, which allows the virus to enter your throat. It is essential to wash and disinfect hands regularly to ensure protection and stop the spread of this potential killer.
If you are a business that is concerned about the spread of COVID-19 within your premises and are is looking for some free advice, register on our COVID-19 advice line to speak to one of our Environmental Health Professionals.