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. Due to the announcement of additional cases of the virus in mainland Europe and people recently returned to Ireland from Italy, the H.S.E. have now issued more detailed instructions and advice to the public with regards to COVID-19 testing, quarantine and travel.
Amidst global anxiety surrounding the threat of the newest form of Coronavirus and it’s capacity to rapidly spread across continents, causing dramatic harm before officials may be able to contain it, I’ve been struck by the relative absence of this topic from conversations in my social networks.
Are 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 could be easy to adopt a complacent attitude towards the announcement of a new and 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 are some anecdotal cases of asymptomatic transfer of the disease but currently there is not enough evidence to support this method of transfer.
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.
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
Having face mask (FFP3 Standard) on stand-by is a good idea if there should be an escalation in the risk to health in your area. Paper varieties are not as effective due to the fact that they absorb moisture.
FFP3 grade face-masks are more robust, they cover your mouth and nose and have a respiratory valve. They can prevent you from catching infected droplets which can be transferred if you come in contact with someone who has the COVID-19 Coronavirus. While the HSE are currently saying masks (type unspecified) are only useful for preventing infected people spreading the virus, there are actually 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.
We are currently in flu season (October to March) and many people will have symptoms similar to Coronavirus. Unless people know they have come in contact with a person infected with Coronavirus they may not get tested. 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.
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.
- Disinfect devices you regularly handle such as mobile phones and keyboards and clean your hands after touching door handles and other common-use surfaces that are not being regularly cleaned and clean hands after handling money.
- 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.
- 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 tell your GP which countries you have travelled to in the last 14 days.
- Avoid the consumption of raw or under-cooked animal products and handle these products with care to avoid cross-contamination with other foods (as per W.H.O. guidelines on February 24th, 2020).
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.
Caroline Cunningham (author, artist and wellbeing specialist) provides support to individuals and groups through her books, blogs, on-line courses, reflexology therapy and coaching.
Caroline left a science teaching career in 1999 after burn-out brought on by stress. Today, Caroline’s work is informed by 20+ years experience & deep understanding of self-care practice for greater health, happiness and authenticity.
Caroline is passionate about helping others along their authentic paths.