Recent publication from researchers of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the findings of more than 72,000 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in mainland China, which revealed 2.3% case-fatality rate and suggested that older people and those who sick are most at risk although most cases have found to be mild1. This urge us, especially when we are living with or taking care of elderly people, to take the necessary precautions even if coronavirus has not arrived in our community. Herewith some advices based on the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines:
What is Coronavirus disease?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the new (novel) coronavirus (nCov-2019). It was first identified in December 2019 after an outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Within 3 months, COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported in some countries around the world.
What are the symptoms?
- Most common symptoms are fever, tiredness and dry cough. Others may have aches, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat or diarrhea.
- The symptoms are usually mild and some people can have no symptom even though they are already infected by the virus.
- People with fever, cough and breathing difficulties should contact their doctor or health provider.
- 80% of people who have COVID-19 can recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
- Around 17% may become seriously ill and experience breathing difficulties.
“Older people and people with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness”
How does COVID-19 spread?
- Mostly, the spread is through contact with respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth of a person with COVID-19. The transmission can occur when people touch objects or surfaces that have been exposed to droplets from a person with COVID-19, then touch their eyes, nose or mouth where there can be the entry point of the virus.
- Other way can be through air, from a person with COVID-19 who coughs or exhales to people who breathe in the droplets.
The WHO is still investigating the ways of spreading and will continue to share the updated findings.
How to protect yourself and prevent the spread?
- Wash your hands frequently
Keep your hands clean and hygienic by washing your hands with soap and water frequently or using hand sanitizers. Bring a small bottle of alcohol-based hand rub in your bag if there is a limited access to wash your hands.
- Wear a mask
If you have a runny nose or are coughing or sneezing, follow good respiratory hygiene (e.g. cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze), or wear a face mask. Before wearing a mask, don’t forget to wash your hands with soap or use hand-sanitizers. The mask need to cover your nose and mouth completely. Avoid touching the mask while using it and replace the mask with a new one when it’s damp or dirty. Lastly, don’t forget to dispose tissue or used mask properly to a closed bin. Remember: Do not reuse single-use masks!
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with the suspected infection. However, try to maintain at least 1 meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing to avoid the droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus.
- Stay at home
If COVID-19 starts to spread in the community, people who has mild cough or low-grade fever needs to stay at home, even after taking medications.
- Travel advice
If you want to travel, find the updated information on areas where COVID-19 is spreading2.
- Stay informed
Follow advice from your healthcare provider and stay updated with more advice and guidance from WHO3.
1 Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72 314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA. Published online February 24, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2648
dr. Tania Setiadi
Science Coordinator Alzheimer Indonesia Nederland
PhD Student – Cognitive Neuroscience Center
Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen / University of Groningen