Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which can infect both humans and animals. They can range from the common flu to more serious illnesses and in recent years have been the cause of major outbreaks like the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Compared to SARS, COVID-19 appears to be highly transmissible as most cases are mild and resemble a cold. The symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, fever and shortness of breath (more details are provided in the FAQ below).
If you would like to learn more, you can view an informational YouTube video from John Hopkins Medicine here, or visit the websites listed below.
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene
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.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
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.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
You should exercise responsible research habits and ensure that:
(1) the information is from a reputable organisation (such as a regional or national newspaper or your country's health authorities);
(2) the author is an authoritative source (i.e. they hold an advanced degree in public health, epidemiology, or a related field);
(3) or, in the case that they lack the proper credentials, you should do more research to verify their claims from more reliable sources before accepting their advice.
The following information is from the World Health Organisation Myth buster webpage and has been reproduced here for your convenience. This selection of myths and facts are limited and it is recommended that you visit their site for the full version.
Myth — COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Fact — From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Myth — Cold weather and snow can kill the new coronavirus.
Fact — There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
Myth — Taking a hot bath will prevent the new coronavirus disease
Fact — Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that coud occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Myth — The new coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites.
Fact — To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
Myth — Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus.
Fact — No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 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 and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness. However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill. People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical attention immediately. If possible, it is recommended to call the health care provider or facility first, so the patient can be directed to the right clinic.
What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms and when should I seek medical care?
If you have minor symptoms, such as a slight cough or a mild fever, there is generally no need to seek medical care. Stay at home, self-isolate and monitor your symptoms. Follow national guidance on self-isolation.
However, if you live in an area with malaria or dengue fever it is important that you do not ignore symptoms of fever. Seek medical help. When you attend the health facility wear a mask if possible, keep at least 1 metre distance from other people and do not touch surfaces with your hands. If it is a child who is sick help the child stick to this advice.
Seek immediate medical care if you have difficulty breathing or pain/pressure in the chest. If possible, call your health care provider in advance, so he/she can direct you to the right health facility.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives; the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19. You should also maintain a minimum physical distance of at least 1 metre from others, frequently clean your hands and avoid touching your face and mask.
Medical masks can protect people wearing the mask from getting infected, as well as can prevent those who have symptoms from spreading them. WHO recommends the following groups use medical masks.
• Health workers
• Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, including people with mild symptoms
• People caring for suspect or confirmed cases of COVID-19 outside of health facilities
Medical masks are also recommended for these at-risk people, when they are in areas of widespread transmission and they cannot guarantee a distance of at least 1 metre from others:
• People aged 60 or over
• People of any age with underlying health conditions
Non-medical, fabric masks are being used by many people in public areas, but there has been limited evidence on their effectiveness and WHO does not recommend their widespread use among the public for control of COVID-19. However, for areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least 1 metre is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks.
How can we protect others and ourselves if we don't know who is infected?
Practicing hand and respiratory hygiene is important at ALL times and is the best way to protect others and yourself.
When possible maintain at least a 1 meter distance between yourself and others. This is especially important if you are standing by someone who is coughing or sneezing. Since some infected persons may not yet be exhibiting symptoms or their symptoms may be mild, maintaining a physical distance with everyone is a good idea if you are in an area where COVID-19 is circulating.
Australia — Department of Health
Austria — Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection
Canada — Public Health Agency of Canada
Czech Republic — Ministry of Health
Denmark — Ministry of Health
European Union — European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Finland — Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
France — Ministry of Health
Germany — Federal Centre for Health Education | Robert Koch Institute (federal government agency responsible for disease control and prevention) | Information index
Indonesia — Ministry of Health
Japan — Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Malaysia — Ministry of Health
Singapore — Ministry of Health
South Korea — Ministry of Health and Welfare
Switzerland — Federal Office of Public Health
United Kingdom — National Health Service
United States — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Additionally, there are numerous resources which are a good starting point if you wish to understand this pandemic better:
Academic Institutions & Medical Journals:
Elsevier — Novel Coronavirus Information Center
John Hopkins University — Center for Systems Science and Engineering (COVID-19 tracking)
The Lancet — COVID-19 Resource Centre
The New England Journal of Medicine — COVID-19 webpage
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) (Australia) — Coverage on Coronavirus outbreak
BBC (United Kingdom) — Coronavirus pandemic explainers
Channel News Asia (Singapore) — Latest news on COVID-19
DW (Germany) — COVID-19 news coverage
Foreign Affairs (United States) — Coverage of Coronavirus
France 24 (France) — COVID-19 news coverage
Guardian (United Kingdom) — COVID-19 news coverage
New York Times (United States) — COVID-19 news coverage
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) — Coverage on Coronavirus outbreak
Other [Note: Read with Caution as author(s) are not authoritative sources]:
Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell — YouTube video 'The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do'
Tomas Pueyo — Medium opinion piece
If there are any resources you think should be added, please do feel free to telegram Amerion and it may be included in this dispatch.
An Informational Dispatch on Coronavirus (COVID-19)