Novel Coronavirus - Resources for preventing spread of this highly infectious disease
This article was first published Feb 24th 2020 in response to lack of meaningful instruction to the public from the Irish Health Service with regards to preventing the spread of novel Coronavirus. As cases of the virus started to rise in mainland Europe and people were returning to Ireland from Italy, the H.S.E. finally issued more detailed instructions to the public with regards to COVID-19 testing, quarantine and travel.
In February 2020, with the threat of a new form of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and it’s capacity to rapidly spread across continents, causing serious harm, I was struck by the relative absence of this topic from conversations in my social networks.
Were people being superstitious, wise or complacent?
In Ireland, we’ve been relatively lucky in the past with regards to outbreaks of new viruses so it would have been easy to adopt a complacent attitude towards the announcement of deadly flu virus. Looking at the Irish Annual Notifiable Disease record it’s clear that even the number of case’s of general influenza is on the rise each year, with a threefold number of case’s recorded in 2018.
In my work as a well-being coach my philosophy is this:
The best way to prevent or reduce risk of illness from any kind of flu virus is to be informed, be prepared and to act mindfully.
Bear in mind that COVID-19 is a new virus, scientists are still working to understand how it is being transferred. There were some anecdotal cases of asymptomatic transfer of the disease but as of 24th February there was not enough evidence to support this method of transfer. The Health Protection Surveillance centre have since stated that people can transfer the virus when symptomatic and asymptomatic.
The information provided in this article has been collated from trusted government sources, media and scientific research so that you may make the best decisions to safeguard your health and that of your community.
Within 18 days of publishing this article the Irish Government announced the closure of schools and colleges and shortly afterwards our country went into lockdown to protect the health of our communities. This was the scenario worldwide and thankfully, months later we are much better informed about COVID-19 prevention measures. It has been a challenging time for us all, many lives lost, many businesses and jobs affected and many who have been shaken by the illness and the changes to our society. But we can learn from this and we can recover and become more resilient with knowledge and resolve.
What is Coronavirus / COVID-19?
COVID-19 (also known as novel coronavirus) is a respiratory illness that has not been previously seen in humans. Coronaviruses originate in animals and can be transferred to humans. Covid-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. The virus quickly spread to other Chinese provinces and other countries, including Japan, Thailand, parts of Europe and the United States.
On January 30th 2020 the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) announced that the COVID-19 is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The W.H.O. is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge, to track the spread and virulence of this new virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent further spread and outbreak.
There is still much to be understood about the origins of COVID-19, it’s severity and how it is being transferred between humans. Knowledge of the virus may change and that is why it is important to keep up to date. WHO provides daily updates on COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19 Coronavirus
Common symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
- A high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or higher)
Symptoms of a more severe infection may include:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- Kidney failure
How is Covid-19 (Coronavirus) transmitted?
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is spread in the same way as other cold and flu viruses i.e. through infected droplets of an infected person who you have come in contact with. The infected droplets can be spread through sneezing, coughing and speaking. You could also get infected if you touch surfaces that have droplets of the virus on them and afterwards touch your nose, mouth and eyes.
Currently the CDC (Centres for Disease Control) says that COVID-19 is transmitted between humans, by people who have symptoms of the illness. Much still has to be learned about the incubation period and whether the illness can be transferred by infected people who show no symptoms. Until more is known about the transfer of the disease it is wise to be vigilant and take extra precautions to prevent the spread of infection.
Every home should have a well-stocked health and safety cabinet. Considering the rate at which COVID-19 Coronavirus is spreading across continents it’s a good idea to be prepared ahead of any outbreak in your area. Consider adding good quality protective face masks to your health and safety cabinet for use in situations where extra protection may be necessary.
I have no affiliation with these products they are only suggestions to get you started on your search.
Protection for Mouth, Nose and Eyes
Get yourself a supply of face mask which cover your nose and mouth. Paper varieties are not as effective due to the fact that they absorb moisture, whereas FFP3 grade face-masks are more robust and have a respiratory valve which makes breathing more comfortable.
The H.S.E. originally stated that face masks (type unspecified) are only useful for preventing infected people from spreading the virus, however there are actually a number of H.S.E. reports with regards to the prevention of other respiratory infections such as tuberculosis in which the wearing of FFP3 standard masks have been recommended to be worn by carers/health-workers treating infected people.
Masks are only effective if the wearer has been trained in their correct use, for example, handling the surface of the mask without proper hand hygiene, could give rise to infection if the outside of the mask had become contaminated. Furthermore a person with known symptoms of COVID-19 should be following the advice of their doctor and be isolating from others for 14 days. The wearing of facemasks is more useful for preventing transfer of the disease by people who are asymptomatic.
Ireland was in flu season (October to March) when COVID-19 arrived on our shores and many people would have had symptoms similar to Coronavirus. Unless people knew they had come in contact with a person infected with Coronavirus they may not have contacted their G.P. See Ireland’s H.S.E. advice on when to get tested for COVID-19.
Consider also protection for your eyes and choose eye goggles that provide good cover and visibility.
Anti-Microbial Hand Gel
Alcohol-based anti-microbial hand gels are suited to on-the-go use. The most effective versions have alcohol content between 70-95%. Take care with these solutions as they are flammable. Also they may cause harm if accidently ingested so keep out of reach of children and avoid contact with the eyes also.
Alcohol- based anti-microbial hand gels are available in most supermarkets, pharmacies and health stores.
Make sure you have a good supply of tissues for everyday use. If you feel the need to cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the bin and immediately wash your hands or use sanitizing gel. Alternatively, sneeze into your elbow, remembering that you need to be mindful of surfaces (including your clothing) that you have potential to contaminate if you are infected but not showing symptoms.
How to protect yourself from Covid-19 Coronavirus
Prior to first publication of this article, the guidelines to the Irish public for reducing the spread Coronavirus were much the same as the guidelines for prevention of common cold and flu infections, with the addition of some precaustions regarding travel. Since then the H.S.E. have provided additonal advice on reporting Coronavirus, quarantine and travel.
Stepping up your hygiene practice will help to reduce risk of contracting and spreading these viruses now and in the longer-term.
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water and use anti-microbial hand gel for on-the-go use. Follow the World Health Guidelines for safe washing of hands.
- Disinfect devices you regularly handle such as mobile phones and keyboards and clean your hands after touching door handles and other common-use surfaces. Wash or disinfect hands after handling money and use cashless payment options where possible.
- If you cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with tissue, throw the tissue in a bin and immediately wash your hands. If you are without a tissue, cough or sneeze into your flexed elbow and change your clothing as soon as you return home, putting used clothing in the laundry.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who is has symptoms of coughing, sneezing or fever.
- If you have flu symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing, phone your GP (do not visit the GP surgery) and follow their instructions.
Make your wellness a priority with my more comprehensive check list for preventing illness from cold and flu:
Keep up to date with the latest information on COVID-19 Coronavirus.
- Find out the latest information regarding the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus using this COVID-19 tracker which also shows the current number of infections and deaths caused by the disease.
- The Irish Health Service Executive H.S.E. provide live updates on the Coronavirus including Travel Advice for people returning from affected areas.
- Before undertaking any travel between countries check your government’s advice on travel. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs provides travel advice for Irish Citizens travelling overseas.
- The Irish Health Protection and Surveillance Centre provides guidance on COVID-19 for employers
- For up to date information on the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Europe visit the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
- The W.H.O. provides up to date information on the latest findings with regards to COVID-19
- Medical News today provides additional answers to questions on novel Coronavirus.
Article authored by Caroline Cunningham with reference links provided to credible sources and research studies.
Follow Caroline Cunningham Art on WordPress.com