Last Updated: Wednesday April 1st 2020, 07:08 EST.
Here at Healthy Enough, it’s always been our goal to offer you ‘no-nonsense’ advice for practical health and fitness. This approach is more important than ever given the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The facts – as always – reign supreme. Given this, we would like to set you up with some straight answers to five of the most pressing questions you might have about the current state of things.
Of course, the situation related to this illness continues to change daily. As such, we will do our best to continually update the information here as more facts become available.
5 Important Answers to Your Coronavirus (COVID-19) Questions
Understandably, there’s an onslaught of information you can find regarding the so-called ‘coronavirus.’ Therefore, we feel it’s important to present a clear set of answers to several important questions you may be asking.
Sourced from reputable professionals and experts, these questions tackle the basics of the illness, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Let’s start with an explanation of the illness itself.
1. What is COVID-19?
It’s a respiratory illness brought on by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), that can cause mild to fatal symptoms. To avoid confusion with the 2003 SARS outbreak, the WHO has refrained from using this term to communicate about the current illness.
A virus mutation enabled it to transfer to humans and be spread through the population. Since we have not previously had exposure to this strain of the virus, it’s known as ’novel’. As such, we don’t have any prior immunity to it even though our bodies have likely encountered the human variant at some point.
2. How is Coronavirus Spread?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that while they are still learning more about how the coronavirus disease spreads, they do know several key indicators:
- Proximity: The CDC states the illness can be spread from person-to-person within a six-foot radius.
- Respiratory droplets: Droplets created when someone sneezes or coughs can infect another person who gets them in their nose or mouth.
Researchers and health professionals are still monitoring other forms of how the disease spreads. However, as of yet, no other form of potential spreading has been identified that’s more dominant or probable than the two listed above.
Another aspect of the illness is ’community spread’. This is essentially when some people in a given region become infected without understanding whether they’ve had any known contact with an infected person, or traveled to a region with known positive cases.
3. What Are the Typical Symptoms of Coronavirus?
There are several verified symptoms to be aware of, and the effect on an individual has been from mild to fatal. However, predicting fatality rates in the midst of a pandemic comes with a lot of caveats, according to researchers, which is why we won’t be sharing numbers in this piece.
Symptoms can start anywhere between 2–14 days after exposure and include:
- Fever. This has been one of the main symptoms in people displaying moderate to severe illness. A temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater is what doctors consider to be a ‘fever’.
- Cough. Persistent coughing has been noted as another primary symptom. Infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville described the cough to CNN. He noted it as a cough that comes from deeper in the respiratory system and doesn’t produce anything, rather than a ‘tickle.’
- Shortness of breath. The third most notable symptom is shortness of breath. According to Harvard Medical School, this manifests as a feeling of being winded or an inability to catch your breath. They do caution that if shortness of breath is your only symptom, it’s likely not caused by the coronavirus disease.
However, regardless of your symptoms, the advice is that you should be assessed by a medical professional in most cases, whether coronavirus is suspected or not.
4. Should I Seek Treatment if I Think I Have Coronavirus?
The CDC recommends a specific set of actionable steps if you think you have become ill with coronavirus. Obviously, if you have become short of breath and are displaying signs of respiratory distress, you should seek emergency medical care – but try to have someone call ahead first.
In terms of the steps you should take, the CDC advises the following:
- Recover at home. In an effort to reduce the spread of the illness, if you have mild symptoms or suspect you might be sick due to the coronavirus, it’s advised that you stay home and treat your symptoms. This includes hydration and rest.
- Monitor symptoms. Keeping tabs on your symptoms is another recommendation. The CDC recommends you keep in touch with your doctor.
- Self-isolate. Treating yourself at home also means you should self-isolate. This includes staying in one room away from others in your home, if possible. Additionally, in an effort to reduce the spread of the illness, you should not use public transportation or gather in public places.
- Call ahead. Should you require medical attention or develop signs of emergency symptoms, the CDC also recommends calling ahead if possible. Doing so will enable doctors to receive you quickly, while also putting on any appropriate protective gear.
- If you are caring for someone infected with coronavirus.
- If you are symptomatic and need to go out in public to receive medical care.
That being said, public health officials, including the CDC, have announced they are reviewing their face mask guidelines in light of evidence that asymptomatic transmission rates might be a large driver of cases.
On the whole, keeping a distance of six feet from others can be helpful in preventing transmission of the illness to others. We’ll cover this more in the next section.
5. What Is ‘Social Distancing’ and How Do I Do It?
According to Johns Hopkins, social distancing means intentionally reducing your interaction with others, especially in large groups. In many cases, this might mean making arrangements to work from home or postpone events and gatherings.
By now you’ve likely heard the term used in reference to how to stop the spread of coronavirus. While different countries and regions around the world are issuing different variations to their citizens, the basics of the recommendations are the same.
Some examples of social distancing include:
- Canceling school and moving learning to an online environment.
- Limiting capacity at childcare facilities .
- Switching to only carryout or delivery for food establishments.
- Staying six feet away from people not part of your household if you are out in public.
- Closing non-essential businesses.
In addition to observing strict social distancing practices, washing your hands for 20 seconds and avoiding touching your face have all been recommended. Professionals have encouraged these as ways to reduce the spread of the illness.
How to Help Reduce the Transmission of Coronavirus
As we all adjust to less physical interaction and new routines, remember that your efforts are all geared towards ending a global health issue. It’s likely new information and recommendations will emerge as researchers collect more data.
However, the following key items will help you navigate all the current information on coronavirus:
- Coronavirus disease has been named COVID-19 by the WHO and is previously unknown to human immune systems.
- The spread of coronavirus disease happens when mucus droplets from an infected person enter the system of a healthy person.
- The three main symptoms of coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath – varying from absent to fatal.
- If you suspect you have coronavirus, doctors recommend mild to moderate patients should self-isolate at home and avoid contact with others. Those infected who experience shortness of breath in addition to other symptoms of the illness should call ahead and seek urgent care.
- Social distancing is the recommended method of reducing the spread of the illness, and includes taking steps to work from home, learn online, avoid groups, and events. Closing non-essential business is another aspect of social distancing.
The CDC and the WHO remain the most recommended sources of information on coronavirus by local and national health authorities. We will work to keep our information updated here as the situation evolves based on input from the experts.
Be safe, wash your hands, and stay informed.