It’s taken the world by storm – COVID-19, or Coronavirus has sparked mass hysteria throughout Australia, prompting the general public to stock up on non-perishables. But, unless you’re planning on making a paper-mache mask, stockpiling toilet paper probably won’t help you. So, here’s some information that might.
What is Coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19, more commonly referred to as Coronavirus, is a “large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases”. As of the 8th of March, 2020 there are 74 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including three deaths in Australia.
What are the Symptoms?
Coronavirus presents flu-like symptoms. This includes a fever, cough and shortness of breath, whilst more severe symptoms could include pneumonia, kidney failure or even death.
Unfortunately, much like the seasonal flu, seniors are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms of coronavirus. While there is only a 3.4 per cent mortality rate globally, it’s still important to protect yourself against COVID-19.
How to Stay Safe
Coronavirus spreads from person-to-person, so the standard safety procedure for preventing seasonal infections are still in place to prevent the risk of spreading coronavirus. Here are some precautionary steps leading health authorities have advised we take to reduce the risk of coronavirus.
1. Wash your hands regularly
Just like with any seasonal infection, washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with hand soap or alcohol-based hand-sanitisers kills viruses that may be on your hands. As a rule of thumb, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds – that’s the same amount of time it takes you to sing happy birthday twice!
2. Keep a Distance
If you notice anyone coughing or sneezing, ensure you maintain a safe two-metre distance to ensure you do not inhale any liquid droplets from their nose or mouth that may contain a virus.
3. Don’t touch your face!
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Your hands can easily be contaminated with viruses that when transferred to your face, can spread through your body and make you sick.
4. Cover your mouth.
Just like you’ve probably taught your kids, and your kids have taught their kids – cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, either with your hand or a tissue. No free hands? Use your elbow. Immediately wash your hands or elbow and dispose of the tissues afterwards to prevent the virus from spreading to your loved ones.
5. Avoid busy areas
Though you can keep an eye out on who’s coughing and sneezing, being in a crowded place makes this more difficult – you simply don’t know who is sick. If you can, try going to shopping centres early in the morning to beat the crowds.
6. Don’t travel
You were probably looking forward to that three-day cruise to Tasmania, but it's best to postpone the trip until this outbreak settles down. Being in a familiar environment will benefit you if you do fall ill because you can still contact your local health professionals.
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is alarming, it’s important not to panic. If you have concerns about your personal health, contact a health professional and he or she will guide you on what to do. For more information on the coronavirus, visit the World Health Organisation or for the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.health.gov.au.