COVID-19: How to prevent coronavirus?

COVID-19, the new strain of Coronavirus behind the recent pneumonia outbreak in China, is causing alarming effects worldwide
COVID-19: How to prevent coronavirus?
At least 35 countries have confirmed the presence of the new virus – Photo: Liu Yucai/XINHUA
Friday, February 28, 2020 - 7:40pm
EL UNIVERSAL in English/Miranda Perea
Mexico City
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COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus behind the recent pneumonia outbreak in China, is causing alarming effects worldwide. 

Originated in Wuhan, experts have said the strain may not be as deadly as some other strains of coronavirus such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide during a 2002/2003 outbreak that also originated from China.

As of today, the origin of the virus has not been confirmed and its transmission path has not been fully mapped. Although the outbreak has been linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, some patients diagnosed with COVID-19 deny exposure to this market. The World Health Organization (WHO) says an animal source appears most likely to be the primary source of the outbreak and that some limited human-to-human transmission is occurring.

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The WHO has closely tracked the evolution of COVID-19 and, on January 30, declared that the coronavirus epidemic in China constituted a public health emergency of international concern.

The declaration of a global emergency triggered recommendations to all countries aimed at preventing or reducing the cross-border spread of disease, while avoiding unnecessary interference with trade and travel, covering temporary recommendations for national health authorities worldwide, which include stepping up their monitoring, preparedness, and containment measures.

The first vaccine targeting China’s coronavirus could be available in 18 months, “so we have to do everything today using available weapons”, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He said the virus had been named COVID-19, explaining that it was important to avoid stigma and that other names could be inaccurate.

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The World Health Organization asked countries to be “as aggressive as possible” in fighting COVID-19.

On February 24, spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the WHO no longer has a process for declaring a pandemic, but the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak remains an international emergency.

On February 28, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva that the risk of spread and impact of the coronavirus is now very high at a global level.

On the same day, Mexico’s government reported it had detected the first cases of coronavirus infection in two men who had recently traveled to Italy, making the country the second in Latin America to register the virus.

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Meanwhile, national and international health authorities and organizations have issued a number of recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to Dr. Tedros, “The key to containing this coronavirus is to break the chains of transmission,” so the population is urged to follow basic hygiene measures.

Dr. Tedros urged all countries to educate their populations, to expand surveillance, to find, isolate and care for every COVID-19 case, to trace every contact, and to take an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, for this is not an exclusive job for the Health Ministry.

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Hence, the WHO has issued the following basic recommendations to prevent infections by the novel coronavirus.

Since one of the ways the novel coronavirus can be transmitted is by touching your face after touching contaminated surfaces or sick people, it is essential to clean your hands regularly with an alcohol.-based hand rub or to wash them with soap and water.

People are also urged not to use alternative cleaning substances but to stick to disinfectant to clean surfaces regularly.

One of the most important measures is to make sure your information on COVID-19, its symptoms and ways to prevent it, comes from reliable sources such as local health agencies or health professionals.

Watch out for symptoms such as fever, dry cough, or a runny nose. The WHO expects most people to have a mild disease that will allow them to get better without needing any special care.

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In case you show any respiratory disease symptoms, it is essential to avoid traveling. If you get sick while on a flight, you must immediately inform the crew and make contact with a health professional as soon as possible.

When sneezing or coughing, do it in your sleeve or use a tissue you can dispose of immediately in a closed garbage can and clean your hands.

Since seniors and people with cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and diabetes have a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, it is essential for them to avoid crowded areas or places where they might interact with people who are sick.

In case you feel unwell, try to stay home and call your doctor to tell them about your symptoms, where you have been, and who you have had contact with to ensure you get the right advice and, given the case, to be directed to the right medical facility to prevent you from infecting others.

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Finally, the WHO stressed that it is normal to feel anxious and stressed given the worldwide health scenario, so it also issued some coping strategies during the COVID-19 outbreak such as:

  • Talking to people you trust like friends and family
  • If you have to stay home, keep a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, good sleep, and exercise
  • If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or counselor to seek help for physical and mental health needs
  • Gather useful information that will help you accurately determine your risk of infection so as to take reasonable precautions
  • Limit anxiety by lessening the time you spend watching or listening to media coverage that can stress you
  • Use the skills you have learned from previous adversities to help you manage your emotions during challenging times

Say no to mass hysteria, as Dr. Tedros asserted, “Together, we are powerful. Containment starts with you. Our greatest enemy right now is not the coronavirus itself. It’s fear, rumors, and stigma. And our greatest assets are facts, reason, and solidarity.”

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