Paul Bugeja from Gorilla Jobs puts together a Corona Virus (COVID-19) explainer* to help you cut through the internet noise around the ever-evolving pandemic
*With Corona Virus (COVID-19) changing so rapidly, information in this piece is subject to change. Always check your state or federal health websites for the latest updates.
On or around 17 November 2019, according to the South China Morning Post the world changed forever when the first confirmed Corona Virus (COVID-19) infection is believed to have occurred in Hubei Province, China.
In the four months since then, China has managed to reduce local infections to zero even as the rest of the world has watched Corona Virus (COVID-19) inexorably wind itself into a World Health Organisation declared pandemic. With this global creep of the virus has also come growing worldwide panic about the far-reaching implications of Corona Virus (COVID-19) until a vaccine can be discovered and rolled out.
The media has run heavily with the story, meaning our lives have been awash with up-to-the-second information, sometimes to the point of being overwhelming. Sadly, with this has come a slew of misinformation, lies and myths - mostly pushed through social media by mischievous actors - about every aspect of Corona Virus (COVID-19).
So, to combat this, we’ve put together, at least at the time of publishing, this basic Corona Virus (COVID-19) explainer to use as a reference for key questions many are asking.
Rest assured - all the information compiled here has been sourced from authoritative channels, namely government health organisations or the WHO, which, for anyone looking for more information about Corona Virus (COVID-19), should obviously always be the primary source.
What is Corona Virus (COVID-19) and where did it come from?
Corona Virus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus, closely related to a bat coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province.
What are the symptoms of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and how long will it last?
In terms of health awareness and outcomes, much of the fear and panic around Corona Virus (COVID-19) has come from authorities still grappling with the unfolding crisis, so clearing up public confusion over Corona Virus (COVID-19) symptoms is imperative to lessen the panic and in doing so take some of the strain off the medical system.
This infographic from Business Insider, compiled from the CDC, WHO and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, is one of the clearest at-a-glance symptom guides around.
The infection period differs from person to person, with at one end of the spectrum some of those infected not evere even being aware they have contracted Corona Virus (COVID-19), and at the other, the sad reality of severe illness and death.
Bottom line around self-diagnosis: Fever, a repeated dry cough and shortness of breath are strong signs of someone having contracted Corona Virus (COVID-19), particularly if they have recently returned from overseas, are in a higher-risk group (see below) or have come into contact with someone else with the virus, so seeking medical advice at this point is imperative.
How Corona Virus (COVID-19) spreads
Like the flu or the common cold, Corona Virus (COVID-19) spreads from person to person. As scientists still grapple with the exact transmission details, at present they believe it is spread in cough droplets, so predominantly airborne transmission.
Like other viruses, it is also currently thought that iit might persist on surfaces for some time after it has been exhaled.
Until more is known, simple precautions can be taken to protect health and prevent the spreadof Corona Virus (COVID-19) (see below).
Who is most at risk?
While anyone who comes into contact with the virus can contract Corona Virus (COVID-19), some groups have been identified as more at risk, including:
- Anyone recently returned from overseas, particularly from mainland China, Iran, Italy or Korea
- Those who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with Corona Virus (COVID-19)
- People aged 65 years and over
- Aboriginal people (as they have higher rates of chronic illness)
- People with chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, neurological conditions and diabetes
- People with impaired immune systems (such as people who have cancer or HIV, or who take high dose corticosteroids).
Parents worried about their children should read this the Guardian article which has some useful information, although as with any information in this explainer, continue to check for more current information on a regular basis.
How is Corona Virus (COVID-19) tested and treated?
Anyone exhibiting symptoms who is seriously unwell should attend an Emergency Department at their closest hospital, particularly those in high-risk groups.
Others with milder symptoms should seek medical advice by either phoning your GP or calling the 24-hour public information hotline on 1800 675 398. Those with clinical symptoms of Corona Virus (COVID-19) who don’t meet the criteria for testing will likely be told to remain home until their symptoms have completely resolved. Anyone deemed at risk will be referred to a local testing centre.
At present, there is no specific treatment or cure for Corona Virus (COVID-19), although scientists around the globe are frantically researching ways to combat it. Some existing medications have shown promise to treat the virus, but in terms of a unique treatment, as this article in the Guardian points out this could, for several reasons, be some time off from being ready.
It’s important and promising to note, however, that at the time of publishing, nearly half of all cases had recovered, and given not enough is known about the true spread of Corona Virus (COVID-19), this recovery rate could be higher, conversely also meaning the death rate is lower.
Personal steps to protect your health and stop the spread of Corona Virus (COVID-19)
Luckily, there are some very simple steps to prevent the spread of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and to more broadly protect your health during this period.
As the infographic below shows, the key measures most can take include:
- Improving hygiene, primarily through regular handwashing, and reduction of touching one’s face, particularly the nose, mouth and eyes.
- Social Distancing, or physical distancing as some are now calling it, meaning reducing close physical contact with anyone but immediate family or people you share a living space with. The basics of this are (but again, as with all information on this page, this kind of information is updated on a rolling basis, so always double check the requirements have not changed):
- Avoiding crowds and mass gatherings
- Avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces
- Attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres (currently under revision to 6 metres) between you and others in public places.
- Avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing others
- Avoiding visiting vulnerable people (see above)
- Self Isolation for those who have contracted Corona Virus (COVID-19) requires complete isolation until tests show the virus has passed.
With a situation as uncertain as that we currently face, and thanks to the internet and social media, many myths are flying about around Covid19.
Here are four common myths we would like to dispel.
- Myth: Wearing a face mask will protect you from Corona Virus (COVID-19)
- Myth. Ten-second breath holding
- Myth. Corona Virus (COVID-19) won’t transmit in warm places
- Myth. Stock up because the supermarkets will run out of everything
Truth: Face masks are not recommended for those who are well and generally should only be worn by health professionals and those showing the symptoms of Corona Virus (COVID-19).
Truth: Social media lapped this one up, and while it sounds credible, it is untested and should not be used as a home diagnostic tool to assess Corona Virus (COVID-19) infection.
Truth: This one went around as some argued those in the southern hemisphere should be worried they were heading into autumn and winter, while those in the northern hemisphere could breathe a little easier as it was approaching spring and summer. The only sliver of truth lies in this is that going into winter = going into flu season and going into summer = moving out of flu season. People the world over in all kinds of climates have contracted Corona Virus (COVID-19), so temperature in and of itself is not a factor.
Truth: The great (not-so-great) toilet-paper buying panic - and the extension of this to many other items - was caused mostly out of a deep-seated psychological need to be prepared as the uncertainty of Corona Virus (COVID-19) and concepts of social distancing, lockdowns and self-isolation began causing panic. As explained in the video here, supermarkets won’t run out of anything much, and, at present, the lack of certain items on the shelves is the product of people panicking and buying way more than they need up against a logistics nightmare of trying to get products to supermarkets to meet the higher demand.
Having two weeks of supplies - yes including loo paper - is important in case you contract Corona Virus (COVID-19) and need to self-isolate, so definitely buy some extra non-perishables to manage this. For those currently who don’t have Corona Virus (COVID-19), the reality is, even if a more strict lockdown occurs, as might happen, essential services such as supermarkets will remain open and the government will lay out how and when they can be accessed.
The team at Gorilla Jobs has put together a useful explainer on the basics you should know about Corona Virus (COVID-19).
Of course, while this article has been carefully researched using authoritative sources, it is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. We urge you AT ALL TIMES to seek such advice from authoritative government sources such as The Department of Health or from a trained medical professional if you have any concerns about your health.
And for those feeling a heavy mental toll due to these unprecedented times, we recommend you call Lifeline on 131144.
Our final word of advice - look after yourself, those you care for, your friends and loved ones, plus also those in the community around as best you can now and into the immediate future.
Together, we will get through this.