Novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is sweeping the nation at an accelerated rate, causing a growing number of states to declare orders of social distancing and more. But what are the first signs that you might have COVID-19 and what can you do to prevent catching it?
Here’s a brief run-down of COVID-19 and what you should do to keep yourself safe:
COVID-19: What is it?
COVID-19 is a strain of coronavirus, related to SARS and MERS. However, coronaviruses are also known to cause the common cold and a number of less-serious illnesses in humans. Like SARS and MERS, COVID-19 targets the respiratory system, resulting in a dry, deep cough in your chest. Along with this primary symptom comes flu-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, and lethargy. New reports note that a sudden loss of smell or taste is potentially an early symptom of the virus, typically starting before other symptoms have developed.
Other symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- A runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath in more serious cases
It’s important to note that someone ill with the coronavirus might not have all of the above symptoms. Should you be experiencing shortness of breath, fever, and a cough, however, the CDC is recommending that you seek healthcare resources sooner than later. Keep in mind that a fever is typified by an elevated temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Since our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, having a temperature of even 99 degrees Fahrenheit should not be a cause for alarm unless it is accompanied by other symptoms. Keep track of your temperature and be on the lookout for the aforementioned symptoms.
The WHO notes that only one in six people infected with COVID-19 will need to seek out a healthcare professional and more than 80% of people recover without needing any specialized medical help in the first place. However, those with weakened immune systems, including the very young and elderly, should take special precautions at this time. People who have underlying health issues, such as heart disease or liver failure, may also be at a particularly heightened risk for COVID-19 complications. Monitor your health, wash your hands, and contact your doctor if you start to show any of the above symptoms.
How can I avoid catching COVID-19?
Healthcare professionals recommend washing your hands more frequently and staying indoors. If your state has issued a government ordinance to stay inside and practice social distancing, it’s essential that these orders are followed. Staying indoors and limiting your contact with others, including family and friends, is vital when it comes to “flattening the curve.” This phrase is building momentum across the web and refers to the virus’ capacity to infect others. By lowering the rate of people infected and treating the ones that are, we can stop the virus from spreading thereby flattening the curve.
Here are some of the other ways you can avoid catching novel coronavirus:
- Video chat instead of seeing your friends in person: In times of need, it makes sense that you would want to see your friends and family for comfort. Unfortunately, we have to act like everyone we know is infected. Limit your contact with others by relying on alternative forms of communication, like video chatting, calling them on the phone, and playing games with others over the web. This is especially important if your loved ones work in healthcare. Touch base with your loved ones often, but avoid doing so in person.
- Follow the six-foot rule: At the end of the day, we’ll have to leave the house at some point. Whether that’s taking out the trash, going on a walk with your dog, or visiting the grocery store, these essential tasks simply need to be performed. When you do venture outside, be sure to stay a distance of six feet from other people. Coronavirus is spread primarily through contact but as a respiratory illness, a cough can also transmit the illness if you come into contact with their respiratory droplets.
- Sanitize often: Cleaning yourself and your home is essential to staying healthy. If you can, try to clean doorknobs and other commonly used facilities at least once per day. After venturing outside, it’s recommended that you change your clothes into something clean, as well. Disinfect items you get from the grocery store with a cleansing wipe to kill any pathogens that might have gotten on the container.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 can be spread by those who have even mild symptoms. As more research develops, we may learn more about how the disease spreads from person to person. All we can do for now is distance ourselves from others and clean frequently. Should you feel like you’re coming down with symptoms relating to COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare professional.