COVID-19, a (new) Coronavirus illness, is an infectious disease that was first reported in Wuhan, China in December of 2019. The virus causes symptoms similar to the flu, including a cough, fever and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.

As cases of the Coronavirus multiply across the world, it’s important to know what there is to know - particularly the facts rather than the myths surrounding this disease. Let’s delve into the subject of Coronavirus: the facts.


Coronavirus: The facts


Face masks are not a necessity


Along with hand sanitizer, face masks seemed to be top of the shopping list once the Coronavirus began to rapidly spread. Having said that - a face mask is not a guaranteed way to keep the virus at bay.

WHO have recommended that you should only wear a mask when [1]:

  • You’re taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection
  • You’re coughing or sneezing

Regularly rinsing your nose won’t protect you from the virus


Though there’s a small amount of evidence that rinsing your nose out regularly with saline can help you recover from the common cold faster than usual - there’s no evidence to suggest that it can help protect you from contracting the Coronavirus [2].


The virus has the potential to be more deadly than the winter flu


COVID-19 and the winter flu have a number of similarities - including the signs and symptoms and the way in which they are both contracted; through droplets and fomites.

WHO estimate that the Coronavirus has a current fatality rate of about 1%; this potentially makes it 10 times more deadly than the winter flu [3]. That said, it's important to keep in mind that fatality rates differ from area to area.


Weather won’t affect the virus


In general the winter flu often follows the seasons and case numbers decline in spring and summer months. We don't yet know how the changing seasons will affect the novel Coronavirus spread. So far, evidence suggests that the Coronavirus can be spread in all areas and in any climate - from hot and humid to cold and snowy.

No matter the weather, always remember that the best way to protect yourself is by frequently washing your hands and practicing good hygiene [4].


The virus can affect younger people


Although older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill if they contract the virus, young people can be infected and will become sick too!

People of all ages can be affected by the virus [5]. This is why it’s so important for everyone to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene.


A vaccine might take longer than people expect


Nothing can stop a virus in its tracks quite like a vaccine. Nevertheless, officials have stated that creating a vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus infection will likely take at least 18 months [6].

New vaccines require a lot of research, time and testing so, unfortunately, it’s likely that a vaccine will be ready later rather than sooner.


Covid-19 has officially been characterised as a pandemic by WHO [7] and now, more than ever, it’s crucial to play your role in protecting yourself and your loved ones from getting and spreading the virus.

We can all help to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The best way to prevent contracting the virus is to take steps towards protecting yourself, these include [8]:

  • Clean your hands, carefully and often
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, not your hand
  • Wear a facemask if you’re sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly

References

  1. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks. Online: Who.int, 2020
  2. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. Online: Who.int, 2020
  3. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 46. Online: Who.int, 2020
  4. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. Online: Who.int, 2020
  5. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters. Online: Who.int, 2020
  6. C-Span. House Oversight and Reform Committee Hearing on Coronavirus Response. Online: C-span.org, 2020
  7. World Health Organization. WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020. Online: Who.int, 2020
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities. Online: Cdc.gov, 2020