This could get dicey folks. As of 26 minutes ago, we hit over 80,000 confirmed cases of Coronavirus including a disturbing rise in a country adjacent to my own. The spread of this virus has shone a light on the darker impulses of our species from democratic abuse to predatory behaviour from merchants hoping to cash in on a crisis.
Like many of you, I have been keeping my eye on the ball and assessing the situation as it develops. The girl & I are in Portugal which as of yet is still Coronavirus free but with Italy getting out of hand (11 towns under lock down thus so far) and Spain reporting cases in Barcelona (one of the most visited cities in the world), it’s clear that this will continue to spread unabated.
With the World Health Organisation estimating that a vaccine will hit in 1 year at the earliest, I think it’s important to write this article devoid of the sensationalism from the media.
What is the Coronavirus?
A virus from the same family as SARS and MERS. This current shit show we are dealing with is called SARS-CoV-2 and the disease we catch from it is COVID-19. It causes respiratory infections which presents as a cold, but escalates to more serious symptoms.
What are the tell tale signs?
Dry cough, fever and feeling lethargic (tiredness). Pain, congestion, diarrhea and aches can develop.
Why is it so dangerous?
1 in 6 (roughly) of people become dangerously ill and face increasing difficulties in breathing. This is particularly problematic for our senior citizens & folks with medical issues like high blood pressure, heart problems etc.
Roughly 2% of people who contracted the disease have died, although this number is going down. That said, should it spread to epidemic levels, our medical services will become overstretched and the percentage of casualties will likely climb again.
How does it spread?
Coronavirus spreads from people who already have it as is the nature of viruses. It spreads from person to person via bodily fluids (coughs and sneezes) to an action as benign as exhaling. Tiny droplets pool on surfaces around the infected individual which leads to other people being able to catch it.
Inhaling it and touching a contaminated surface & respiratory droplets, then touching your eyes, nose and mouth are ways you catch it.
Based on what we know right now, Coronavirus primary spreads through respiratory droplets and not through the air. What this means on a practical level is 1 meter of distance (3 feet) is enough between you and an infected individual for a general “keep safe distance” as per the advice of the CDC & the WHO.
Feces can also spread it, but it’s unlikely based on the data currently available, again this is from the WHO & CDC.
What can I do to protect myself?
Don’t travel to areas with known breakouts. Be aware of your surroundings and maintain proper hygiene. Wash your hands regularly, especially after touching objects that are prone to accumulate foot traffic (think public transportation, handrails on mall elevators etc.).
Purell or other portable disinfectant is super useful in this scenario & will effectively kill the virus.
Try not to touch your eyes, nose & mouth. Easier said than done, I know but it will be the most effective defence. I recommend wearing glasses and a surgical mask as that will create a barrier between you and your subconscious movements.
Please in the name of God cover your mouth & nose when you sneeze or cough. Tissue or bent elbow folks.
Be proactive should you notice symptoms. Don’t drop into the hospital. Call your local health authority instead as it’s likely they have contingency plans regarding preferred location etc.
What about masks?
N95 & FFP2+ (FFP3, etc) masks will stop you getting Coronavirus as long as the seal is tight & you don’t touch your eyes. Prices are skyrocketing so if you can get your hands on some, it might be a good idea. I would recommend cheap surgical masks as they will stop you touching your mouth and nose, which is the biggest issue right now, and surgical masks don’t suffer from issues regarding seal. Bare in mind that N95 masks for kids are not exactly common, but the stretchy surgical masks fit everyone.
The virus can live for a few minutes to a couple of hours on a surface, based on the info we currently have. Various studies have been done on other Coronaviruses [source] which point to a longer period, but until we know with this particular strain it’s best to just be careful.
I will do my best to answer questions as I get them. Expect more in depth articles in the future, but for now I wanted a primer that was no bullshit and to the point.