COVID-19 has become the deadliest yet well-known disease across the world. This virus primarily causes symptoms similar to common cold and flu. Moreover, it is highly contagious and spreads through the respiratory droplets of an infected person during coughing or sneezing. People who are in close proximity to the infected person are at high risk of contracting the virus. Additionally, disease transmission can occur through contact with contaminated surfaces as well.
Looking at the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, CDC recommended people wear face masks in public and maintain a distance of at least six feet from the people around you. These steps will help to slow down the transmission of the virus. (1)
Currently, the United States of America is the most affected country from coronavirus. Although most of the cities have a lockdown, it is essential to know how the disease spreads and how you can stay protected from the transmission. Today’s article will focus on the mode of transmission of the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, we will discuss the ways to stay protected in public places.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This virus typically belongs to a family of coronavirus that primarily affects the birds and mammals. In humans, coronavirus usually causes an upper respiratory illness that may show symptoms similar to the common cold.
It is a highly contagious disease. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020. There is continuous monitoring going on around the world by WHO and CDC to record the spread of infection. moreover, many countries have lockdown and following preventive measures recommended by the world health authorities. (2)
Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include –
- Dry cough
- Nasal congestion
- High-grade fever
- Headache and body aches
Currently, there is no vaccine or medical treatment for the novel coronavirus.
How does coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 causes an upper respiratory illness similar to flu symptoms. This makes it a highly contagious disease as it can quickly cover from the respiratory droplets during coughing, sneezing, and breathing. (4) Often, the potential for disease transmission increases among the people close to a coronavirus infected person through aerosolized droplets.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting public exposure through mass gatherings. Failure to do so can lead to rapid community transmission. Therefore, organizers, especially in the United States, must realize the potential risk of coronavirus spread to all the attendees.
Additionally, there is a risk of disease spread through contact from contaminated surfaces. New researches have shown that novel coronavirus can sustain on surfaces such as metal, stainless steel, and plastic for at least three days or even a week. (5)
Moreover, the most frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, handles, and keys are the most common source of disease spread.
What is the impact of COVID-19?
As soon as the new coronavirus outbreak occurred in December 2019 in China, the WHO started its assessment round the clock. Initially, it was thought to be a controllable disease spread. However, looking at the level of disease transmission and the severity of symptoms, the health authorities were alarmed.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization changed the classification of COVID-19 from a public health emergency of international concern to a Pandemic. The global impact of COVID-19 has been severe as compared to any other viral spread in the world.
Many countries have gone under complete lockdown, which means the schools, offices, and businesses are all closed. People are requested to stay home and work from home. Many international borders have been closed completely.
In the United States, people are being advised to avoid social gathering that includes more than ten people. The WHO is still analyzing the information on both the current and new cases to determine the level of severity of the viral infection.
According to a recent report, SARS-CoV-2 has been suggested to be more infectious as compared to any other type of coronavirus. Moreover, it is more likely to transmit fast among older adults, pregnant mothers, and infants because these groups undergo frequent immunologic and physiologic changes. (6)
The WHO and CDC have recommended prioritizing suspected cases of older adults and pregnant women for diagnostic testing of COVID-19.
How likely can a person catch the COVID-19 infection?
Ideally, the risk of contracting COVID-19 depends on the location of the person. Additionally, it depends on whether the area is at high alert for the virus outbreak or not. Currently, the novel coronavirus has affected millions of people around the world.
Moreover, it is rapidly spreading and increasing the risk of catching the infection through community transmission. Everyone is at risk of getting infected with the novel coronavirus, particularly older adults with a severe illness such as lung and heart disease. (3)
Even a healthy person can develop mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. The world health officials and the government are taking strict actions to contain the virus within the affected area and limit the number of people being affected.
However, this measure can run smoothly with the co-operation of the citizens and the community as a whole. There is a need for co-operative teamwork to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. It is essential to be aware of the rate of disease spread in your locality to stay prepared and protected.
Why is there a need to limit crowd in public?
Many experts and specialists suggest that the best strategy to deal with the current virus spread is to limit the crowd in public places. This will help to slow down the transmission from one person to another.
Many countries such as Italy and China have suffered from widescale community spread reporting hundreds and thousands of new cases per day. Moreover, multiple deaths due to coronavirus were witnessed around the world. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid and limit the crowd in public.
‘Containment of the infection’ is what the health officials are focusing on currently. This means that the main focus is on protecting the community from the spread of the virus so that healthy people don’t get infected.
How can you protect yourself in public places?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are at a high risk of disease transmission are –
- Older adults with chronic illnesses such as heart and lung disease or diabetes
- Infants and newborns (7)
This doesn’t mean that healthy individuals are immune from the spread of coronavirus. Everyone is equally at risk of community transmission. Some of the protective guidelines recommended by the CDC include –
Be aware of the modes of disease spread
The first step to stay protected is to understand the routes of transmission of the disease and avoid being exposed. Typically, the novel coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets of an infected person while sneezing or coughing.
- Suggested read: 13 Most Vital Preventive Steps and Strategies for COVID-19
Moreover, contact with an infected person or contaminated surface can also increase the risk of contracting the infection. Stay updated with the current health guidelines through trusted sources and promote home quarantine in your society to stay protected.
Maintain proper health hygiene
- Follow a meticulous hand hygiene routine – wash your hands frequently, mainly when you have visited a public place. You can use an antiseptic soap and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Moreover, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rub it on your hands. Purchase a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol content.
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth to minimize the risk of disease spread – contaminated hands have the potential to transfer the virus into your body tissues through eyes, nose, and mouth. Therefore, avoid touching it, mainly when you have visited a public place and not washed your hands. (8)
- Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing with your elbows bent. Dispose of the tissue immediately in a covered dustbin. This is because the droplets contain active virus which can cause disease transmission.
- If you develop the symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough and nasal decongestion, wear a face mask to cover your mouth and nose at all times.
Clean and disinfect surfaces
Typically, the WHO declared that the novel coronavirus could stay active on inanimate objects and surfaces for almost three days. This significantly increases the risk of catching COVID-19. Therefore, it is essential to clean and disinfect every possible surface to stay protected.
- Wipe and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, tables, chairs, and handles regularly. Use a detergent soap and water to clean the surface first and then use a disinfectant solution.
- Bleaching solutions or alcohol-containing disinfectants are best suited to kill the microbes effectively.
- Swap your hand towels and dusting cloth frequently and wash and dry them properly.
- Use a robust floor cleaning solution, especially in households with infants and children playing around.
Avoid close contact with everyone
- Avoid large crowds or mass gatherings in the public
- Maintain social distancing – this means you need to stay at least six feet away from the people around you, especially those who have symptoms of flu or the common cold. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, increasing the risk of spread.
- Stay at home if you feel sick or unwell. Stock up medical and essential food supplies that can last for a couple of weeks.
- The WHO recommends remaining under self-isolation for at least seven days from the day the symptoms began. Monitor the severity of your symptoms during this period. (9)
- Some of the common symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, nasal congestion, high fever, headache, and body ache. Seek proper medical attention and call in advance to allow your healthcare provider to direct you to the right health facility.
What are the chances of re-infection?
Currently, it is unsure how likely a person can get re-infected. However, there have been few cases where people who had previously recovered from COVID-19 showed the recurrence of the symptoms. Researchers believe that such claims are more likely relapses rather than re-infection.
Relapse occurs when a person may test negative for the presence of the virus in the nose and throat. However, the infection may remain in other parts of the body. Currently, several hospitals and laboratories are testing blood samples of people who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus. This is being done to check if they have developed immunity against the virus.
Will the transmission of coronavirus go down during the hot and humid summer months?
It is too early to know whether coronavirus spread will slow down during the summer season. Many other respiratory viruses show a decline in the spread during the summer season. Humidity is lower in winter, which is good for transmission. Due to low humidity, the virus-carrying droplets shrink, and friction keeps them in the air, whereas humidity cannot do that.
There is some evidence that shows that coronavirus cases have clustered around colder and dryer regions. One study showed that counties, where this virus was spreading via community transmission by March 10, had lower average temperature than the countries where there were fewer cases.
However, summer alone will not bring down coronavirus cases. Countries like Singapore and Hong Kong have kept coronavirus under control, but only because of their extreme control measures. Coronaviruses can be transmitted in hotter and humid climates. The doctors dealing with coronavirus pandemic across the world advise that there is no real evidence to show that coronavirus can slow down in summer and that we shouldn’t be too hopeful of the summer respite.
Is containment an effective solution?
One of the best methods to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay away from others. This strategy gives the virus less opportunity to spread. Governments all over the world are asking people to stay at home and avoid social gatherings. Schools have been shut, and social events have been canceled. These measures help to blunt the impact of the outbreak. If fewer people get sick at one time, it is easy for healthcare providers to give proper care for everyone.
Take away message
Many experts are urging to cancel events that may draw mass gatherings and large crowds during the pandemic outbreak. It is crucial to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 is a virus that may look similar to the flu causing virus but is deadly and highly contagious. Some of the symptoms of this virus include cough, nasal congestion, fever, and headache. One of the standard modes of transmission of the novel coronavirus is respiratory droplets through infected patients.
Additionally, contaminated surfaces such as metal doorknobs, plastic bottles, and any other surface touched by an infected person can become a mode of disease spread to a healthy individual.
It is essential to follow proper health hygiene practices and stay at home for as long as the coronavirus is not under control. Moreover, the CDC guideline is crucial for protecting yourself from contracting this deadly disease.
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