13 Mar Fighting the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV 2) pandemic: tips and facts about the new coronavirus
SARS-CoV 2 is a new strain of coronavirus that emerged on November in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since the first case was reported, the number of people affected has escalated dramatically.
At the time of writing this story, there were 168,019 confirmed SARS-CoV 2 cases worldwide and 6,610 deaths, according to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
How can you get it?
- The SARS-CoV 2 virus can be transmitted from person to person, through droplets produced by an infected person and transmitted by coughs, sneezes or just by talking.
- SARS-CoV 2 is able to survive outside your body for at least three hours as an aerosol (small particles floating in the air) and much more on solid surfaces. A study published today found that SARS-CoV 2 survives for up to 72 hours on surfaces like metal and plastic.
- One important aspect about this new virus is that transmission may occur even before the start of symptoms, as described in this report from The Lancet. Hence, it is important to practice good hygiene and follow recommended guidelines to prevent and contain infections. This way you reduce the chances of passing on the virus, if you have it and don’t know it. Likewise, good hygiene reduces the chances of getting infected from someone who seems healthy.
How does SARS-CoV 2 affect your body?
Like other coronaviruses (e.g. SARS or MERS), SARS-CoV 2 is a respiratory disease. It targets your lungs, and, in most patients, the disease starts and ends in the lungs. It is estimated that around 80% of people affected by this virus only develop mild symptoms, including fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, and shortness of breath. More serious conditions can develop, however, particularly in susceptible groups, like anyone with pre-existing conditions or the elderly.
If you are infected by the SARS-CoV 2 virus
Don’t panic. Most likely, you will just experience mild symptoms, like 80% of people who catch this virus. Stay at home and do your best effort to isolate yourself from anyone in your household. You should wear a surgical mask to cover your coughs and sneezes and replace it regularly. You should also wash your hands frequently, with soap and water, for at least 20 second. If you have any questions, you can contact the Australian government Healthline, open 24/7, at 1800 020 080.
In Perth, COVID clinics have been established to test people for SARS-CoV 2. However, you must only attend these clinics if you have fever and/or respiratory symptoms and, if in addition to these symptoms, you have documented evidence of overseas travel in the past 14 days or have been in contact with someone confirmed to have SARS-CoV 2.
The clinics are located at Royal Perth Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the Fiona Stanley Hospital. Further details can be found here.
Protecting yourself against SARS-CoV 2
There is no cure for SARS-CoV 2 and while efforts to develop a vaccine are on the way, it might be 12-18 months before an actual shot becomes available. An important goal is reducing the spread of the virus, what many are calling “flattening the curve”.
So, for now, the best you can do is learn about ways to protect yourself against this virus:
- One important step is to ramp up your hygiene, and wash your hands often, using alcohol-based hand sanitiser (60% alcohol) or with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Tip: Hand sanitiser can be made at home, granted you find rubbing alcohol.
- You should avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, especially if you are out and about. This virus is likely to survive outside on random surfaces. Hence, if you touch an infected surface, and place your hand in your mouth or eyes, you will likely get the disease.
- Avoid close contact with other people. Person to person is, very likely, the most common source of infection.
Another important way to protect yourself against this disease is by improving the function of your immune system. This way, if you get the virus, your body will be better prepared to deal with it. Some of the best ways to improve the function of your immune system include:
- Sleeping well, eating healthy and exercising; these simple approaches have proven beneficial effects on the immune system.
- Avoiding stress
- Supplementing your body with certain vitamins and minerals, including
- Boosting your diet with some specific nutrient-rich foods, like
- Certain Botanical supplements are also known to help boost the immune system, including:
- Angelica sinensis; the dry root of this plant is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is known to promote blood circulation and modular the immune system.
- Astragalus; studies have identified immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer effects for this herb.
- Rhodiola rosea; has been shown to enhance cellular immunity and humoral immune function in mice.
- Cordyceps sinensis; this is a type of fungus used in traditional Chinese medicine, used for the treatment of fatigue, cough, renal dysfunction, renal failure and other conditions.
However, before medicating yourself with any of these substances, or drastically changing your lifestyle and diet, be sure to consult a functional medicine practitioner or other health professional. Also, inform yourself from reputable sources. A good starting point is the WHO website devoted to SARS-CoV 2, where you can find updated information about the pandemic as well as recent research articles.