What is it?
- COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus detected in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS and MERS.
- The outbreak was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019 as a pneumonia of unknown cause.
- By January 9, 2020 China CDC reported a novel coronavirus as the causative agent of the outbreak.
- The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020 and a Global Pandemic on March 11, 2020
- On February 11, 2020, the novel coronavirus was officially named SARS-CoV2 and the disease it causes was called COVID-19.
What are the common symptoms?
- Shortness of breath/breathing difficulties
- In severe cases, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How is it spread?
- The virus is spread mainly from person to person, between people in close contact (within three to six feet) through respiratory droplets produced when the infected person coughs or sneezes
- By touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
Can people who are not yet showing symptoms spread the virus?
- The science on this is evolving. While it is now accepted that this form of transmission is theoretically possible, it is not the main form of transmission and the risk is still considered very low.
How do I protect myself?
- Practise social distancing by maintaining 1 to 2 metres or 3 to 6 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- Wash hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water, and when soap and water is unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue immediately in a waste basket
- Stay away from school or work if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing and seek medical advice early
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily including desks, telephones, light switches, doorknobs, countertops, faucets, sinks and toilets.
What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?
- If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and you have been in one of the countries where there is community spread of COVID-19 during the previous 14 days, or think you may have come into close contact with someone who has, CALL (do not visit) your private medical practitioner, the nearest polyclinic or the COVID -19 hotline at 536-4500 for advice.
- If you meet the above criteria, health officers will visit your home to carry out a clinical assessment and transport you to the testing site where you must remain until the results are returned.
- Can I protect myself by wearing a mask?
- The World Health Organization advises that if you are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 you should wear a mask to protect the others around you. Your caregiver who will be in close contact should also wear a mask.
- With the exception of caregivers, it is not necessary for persons who are not sick to wear a face mask.
Who is at higher risk of severe illness?
- Older persons
- Persons with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.
Explain what is meant by quarantine and isolation
- Self-quarantine or home quarantine means that you are required to isolate yourself in your home, avoiding contact with others for 14 days.
- Mandatory quarantine means that you are required to stay in a designated health facility and be monitored for 14 days.
- No-one is sent to quarantine if signs of illness are visible. Persons are sent to quarantine based on travel history and level of risk of exposure to the virus, as determined by health authorities.
- Persons are placed in isolation when they show signs of illness. They are then tested for COVID-19.
How is the illness treated?
- Currently there is no vaccine and antibiotics are ineffective. Researchers around the world are working to develop a vaccine.
- If symptoms are mild you are advised to stay away from others, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and continue to monitor symptoms.
- If symptoms are severe, you will be isolated in a medical facility where supportive treatment may involve medication to reduce fever, fluids to reduce risk of dehydration and supplemental oxygen.
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