As the number of people that have contracted the coronavirus around the world reaches 2.3 million, more people are wondering how best to protect themselves from this disease.
The World Health Organisation has released an official document guiding the public on how to reduce exposure, transmission and save lives.
How does the coronavirus spread?
Just like viruses such as SARS and MERS, COVID-19 is spread through the respiratory droplets that are released and deposited from coughs and sneezes.
These microscopic droplets can be inhaled or transferred on to surfaces that can then lead to the infection of people who have come in to contact with the infected droplets.
As this is a novel virus, experts are not exactly sure how it works. Nonetheless, the public has been advised to limit public gatherings and to practice social distancing, which is remaining 2 meters apart at all times.
COVID-19 has spread so rapidly due to the incubation period, where the virus lays dormant in the human body anywhere between 2 and 14 days meaning some people may become super spreaders, without even knowing they have the virus and potentially infecting many people.
How to protect against coronavirus?
Closed cases in which there was an outcome, shows 79% of people recovering from the virus and discharged.
Although it is important to note that this disease can be deadly for high-risk people, which include the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. This is because their immune systems are weakened, which is essentially what allows you to fight off the virus.
Wash your hands
Be sure to regularly and thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. The hands are the top spreader for germs and bacteria, as we often subconsciously touch our nose mouth and eyes with unwashed hands, which could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.
When water and soap are unavailable, it is advised to use antiviral hand sanitiser.
Wear a face mask
Respiratory face masks offer protection against inhaling the virus-carrying-droplets that are transmitted via coughs and sneezes from infected individuals. However, they cannot 100% guarantee you will not be exposed to the virus as improper use and low-grade masks may allow some particles in.
There are several different grades of protection as well as comfort and style. By testing the different styles and types of face masks you will find the mask that you find comfortable, lightweight and protective.
Self-isolate if you have returned from an affected area or are showing symptoms
The coronavirus is exceedingly contagious, so if you have recently returned from a high risk are i.e. china, USA, France or Italy, then government advice is to self isolate for 14 days to ensure you are not carrying that virus that could be spread to other members of the public.
Seek early medical help
If you begin to show symptoms of COVID-19 such as a persistent dry cough, fever or difficult breathing, then it is imperative you contact your local medical facility or call the non-emergency line 111 to acquire an assessment of the seriousness of your symptoms.