What is the Corona Virus?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold, to more potentially severe diseases, as is the case with the COVID 19 virus.
COVID 19 is a new strain of Corona virus that was discovered in 2019 and had not been previously identified in humans.
WHO indicates that Corona viruses are zoonotic, meaning that they are transmitted between animals and people. It is generally accepted by health experts that the COVID 19 virus was first transmitted to humans, in the Hubei province, in China, as a result of people consuming meat that was infected with the virus.
How does COVID-19 spread?
According to WHO, COVID 19 is most likely to spread by respiratory (contaminated) droplets when there is close contact (1.5 metres or less) with an infected person; it is likely that the risk increases as the period of exposure to an infected person lengthens. Contaminated droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes are the main means of transmission.
There are two main routes by which infected people can spread COVID 19:
- Infection can be spread to people who are nearby through contaminated droplets reaching their mouth, nose or eyes.
- It is also possible that someone may become infected by touching contaminated surfaces and objects or when touching the hand of a contaminated person and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
What are the most common signs of COVID-19 infection?
According to WHO and the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases; Common signs of infection include; respiratory symptoms (difficulty to breath, feeling of ‘tight’ chest, shortness of breath), fever (often starts mild and progresses to a high fever), dry cough, feeling cold (often causing body to shake), headaches, body aches, loss of smell or taste (or both), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, redness of eyes, sore eyes. Signs of severe infection includes; acute respiratory problems, kidney and other organ failure (such conditions will require hospitalization. If left untreated could lead to death). People with weakened immune systems, older people and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease, are more susceptible to the severe form of the COVID 19 infection.
Symptoms of COVID 19 usually appear within 14 days after exposure to the virus.
How to minimise the risks of being infected with the Corona virus, including COVID 19?
- Practice on-going routine cleaning and disinfecting of your personal space and community space.
- Wear a suitable mask.
- Wear face-visor when necessary.
- Do not have close contact with people when greeting them … e.g. do not shake hands, do not hug or kiss.
- Stay away from those who are showing signs of having flu-like symptoms.
- Apply social distancing … i.e. keep a minimum of 1.5 metres distance between you and other people.
- Sanitise areas and spaces where visitors have stood, sat or worked.
- Do not stand or sit in groups where there is no social distancing.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
- Sanitise hands whenever necessary, using a 70% alcohol-based sanitising liquid.
- Do not touch your face if you have not washed or sanitised your hands.
- Cover your face when you cough or sneeze.
- After you have used a tissue or a paper towel, dispose of it straight away (in an appropriate receptacle).
- Do not touch any object or surfaces if you are not sure whether they are clean or whether they are adequately sanitised / disinfected (e.g. handrails, desks, tables, door handles, light switches, handles on equipment / utensils… etc, desks & chairs, press-button mechanism on all disinfecting spray bottles, ATM machines pin pad, pay-points pin pads, till points, shopping baskets and trolleys, remote controls, machinery, etc).
- Carry a portable sanitising spray bottle at all times (70% alcohol-based), to use when appropriate.
- Sanitise hands before using your computer keyboard.
- Do not share food.
- Do not go out if you are feeling ill.
- Do not go out if a member of your family, or anyone else you have been in close contact with, has fallen ill.
- Monitor your condition if you have flu-like symptoms, or if a member of your family, or someone else you have been in close contact with, is showing signs of flu-like symptoms (so that you can monitor whether it is just flu or something more serious like Corona virus).
- Know at all times who to contact if you feel that you may have contacted Corona virus.
- Always ensure that you follow strict personal hygiene routines (e.g. bathing / washing regularly, keeping your personal space clean, cleaning / disinfecting after using the kitchen, bathroom and toilet areas).
- Before you use public transport, ensure that they have put in place all proper sanitising and social distancing rules.
- Wash or sanitise your hands if you have been touching domestic animals.
- Sanitise items made from solid material (e.g. plastic containers) or items wrapped in plastic, which you have brought back from the supermarket (or anywhere else where you have purchased goods), before you use them or pack them away.
- Follow all the proper lockdown rules and regulations.
- If you have been in an environment with many other people, for a long period of time; as soon as you get home, take a shower or a bath and wash the clothes that you have been wearing, including your cloth mask.
- Encourage anyone you come into contact with, to carry hand sanitisers and practice all basic sanitary protocols.
- Open doors and windows where possible (weather permitting) to increase air circulation.