The recent outbreak of Covid-19 is creating havoc across the world. It’s caused by a novel virus (a strain not previously identified in humans) named SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2.
SARS-CoV-2, is actually the virus that causes COVID-19, the disease.
This disease or severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 mainly affects the respiratory system (nose, nasal passages, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs) in humans. By following certain practices such as daily exercise, eating correctly, sleeping well and keeping a routine can help keep your physical & mental health intact during this Covid-19 pandemic. Lets get to it!
- COVID-19 Back Story
- COVID-19 by the numbers
- Does the weather affect Covid-19?
- Covid-19 Vaccine
- Covid-19 Vs the Flu
- How does COVID-19 spread?
- Prevention Tips
- Health and Diet during Covid-19
The 1st outbreak was first diagnosed in Wuhan, China and the spread was rapid, with cases confirmed in at least 115 countries. As the first few patients were brought to a hospital with symptoms of pneumonia (unknown causes), they would soon learn that they had contracted a new virus, SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately the previous strain, SAR-CoV-1, is what caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) disease from 2002 to 2003…
And the race to bring the “outbreak” under control had begun:
- prompt detection of cases
- isolation of suspected of probably cases
- tracing to identify
- quarantine of suspects
- exit screening
The SARS‐CoV‐2 virus (Covid-19 disease) apparently succeeded in making the transition from animals to humans in the fish market of Wuhan, China. But no evidence has been found of animal-to-human transmission, as opposed to Covid-19’s capability to spread from human-to-human.
Covid-19 can cause mild to life-threatening symptoms in infected persons. Some patients can show a variety of symptoms including flu, runny nose, fever, and loss of smell and taste, whereas others might have mild or no symptoms. While this may be true, a person who contracts COVID-19 from someone who had few or no symptoms may still have serious or life threatening symptoms.
Covid-19 can infect people of all ages but older people with predisposing health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, a heart problem are more susceptible. People with a good immune system generally do not show any symptoms but they also shed viruses and can transfer the virus to other people.
As of December 4, 2020, Covid-19 cases have been recorded in six continents, and around 1.5 million people have died. Around 66.7 million people have been diagnosed with Covid-19, and 42.9 million people have recovered. America has recorded the highest number of deaths with Covid-19, with almost 18% of the total global death rate.
Weather can be related to the spread of the virus as it has an impact on the survival of the virus. For example, people tend to have more infections with respiratory viruses like the influenza virus during winter.
Studies of previous SARS-CoV in 2003 show that the virus can be related to weather. In Hong Kong, cases were 18 times higher in lower temperatures than more elevated temperatures.
A recent review has described the mechanism of the seasonality of respiratory infections. In cold, dry winter weather, the mucous lining in the nose dries up which disturbs the normal functioning of cilia, tiny hairs that stop the entry of viruses and bacterias. The review concluded that 40-60% humidity is ideal for respiratory health.
The relationship between Covid-19 spreading and weather is complicated because it’s related to human behavior. Weather influences the environment in which the virus survives before entering a new host. Weak public health and safety measures like wearing masks and social distancing are factors that influence the spread of the disease.
#4. Covid-19 Vaccine
World Health Organization (WHO) is collaborating with scientists, businesses, and health organizations to speed up the vaccine development process. There are more than 100 Covid-19 vaccines under development, with some vaccines in the trial process and some approved for application. Currently, there are efforts to make the vaccine available to everybody by the mid of 2021. A Covid-19 vaccine is like any other vaccine that will provide an acquired immune response against the Covid-19.
Pfizer/BioNTech has received authorization from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on the 2nd of December. Sputnik V developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow has been approved by the Russian authorities on the 11th of August. Experts are raising considerable concern regarding the vaccine’s safety as it has not yet completed it’s Phase 3 clinical trials.
Both Covid-19 and influenza mainly affect the respiratory system. Both are transmitted from human to human contact, fomites, and droplets. The speed of transmission is a key difference between the two diseases. Covid-19 spread is far greater than the influenza virus. Influenza generally infects children or pregnant women, whereas coronavirus affects old people with predisposing illnesses. The death rate in influenza is around 0.02%, Covod-19 has shown a death rate of around 2-3% (Number of deaths divided by positive cases).
Although scientists believe that Covid-19 probably originated from an animal source but no evidence suggests that it can spread from animals to humans. The virus is transmitted from human to humans through inhalation of respiratory droplets.
It can survive on the outer surfaces of different objects for several hours. A person can contract the virus by touching the surface and then toughing his mouth, eyes, or nose.
#7. Prevention Tips
The following tips are very helpful in protecting yourself from Covid-19 and transmitting to others.
a. Wear a mask
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone must wear a face mask in public places especially where social distancing is impossible like visiting a grocery store or medical store. It can protect you from getting a virus from both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.
Mask should be used correctly and must cover your nose and mouth. When used properly a mask can help you avoid SARS-CoV-2 when someone sneezes, coughs, or talks. It will help in slowing down the spread of the virus.
An experiment was conducted using high-speed video that showed that hundreds of droplets were generated while speaking a simple phrase, but almost all the droplets were stopped when the mouth was covered with a damp cloth.
You can either use surgical masks or N95 masks or you can make your mask using guidelines provided by CDC.
Certain guidelines should be kept in mind while using face masks.
- The best mask is the one that you can wear comfortably and consistently.
- Cloth masks are not as effective as surgical masks or N95 masks.
- Masks alone cannot protect you from the virus, you should follow other protocols too including washing your hands regularly and social distancing.
- Do not touch your mask as you can transfer the virus from your hands to your mask.
- Do not wear a mask if you have trouble breathing, or some respiratory disease that can be aggravated due to the mask.
b. Avoid Physical Contact
Avoid touching, handshaking, and hugging other people as the virus spreads through contact. The virus is transferred by two mechanisms when people hug, through droplets and physical contact. Skin contact can transfer the virus from one person to another, as you might touch your face or nose later on.
c. Wash your hands
Use an antibacterial or antiviral soap and warm water to wash your hands. You should wash your hands thoroughly from your fingers to your wrists for at least 20 seconds.
The best way to ensure the time is to sing the happy birthday song twice. You should do the same for hand-sanitizer, use 60% alcohol-based sanitizer and rub hands for 20-30 seconds.
d. Social Distancing
Social distancing is important in lowering the transmission of Covid-19. You must have a distance of 2 meters (6 feet) from other people while going out of your house for grocery or medicine.
If you are carrying the virus in symptomatic or asymptomatic form, you can transmit to another person while breathing. A distance of 2 meters will eliminate the chances of active transmission.
e. Avoid touching face or nose
Avoid touching your face, especially the nose or eyes. You can get the virus from different places like doorknobs, gas pump handle, or mobile phone as the virus can survive for 72 hours on the surface of these objects. By touching these objects and later transferring the virus through your mouth, nose, or eyes, you can get the infection.
f. Avoid massive gatherings
Gatherings are perfect places for the transfer of the virus as you are in close contact with other people. You might get the infection by being in the proximity of someone who is carrying the virus. These gatherings include religious, political, weddings, parks, beaches.
g. Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing
Use a tissue or your elbow while sneezing or coughing. You should avoid your hands to contact your mouth as little as possible. Wash your hands after sneezing or coughing.
The virus is carried through droplets from one person to another. It is found in high numbers in your mouth and nose. So, when you sneeze or cough, you can transfer the virus to a healthy person.
h. Disinfection of surfaces
Regular disinfection is the key to eliminate the virus load in your surroundings. Use alcohol-based disinfectants to clean door handles, toys, countertops, and furniture. Disinfect your laptops and mobile phones that you use on regular basis.
i. Avoid eating or drinking outside your home
You should avoid going to coffee shops, restaurants, and other eateries. The virus can be transferred through dishes, cups, and other utensils. The virus also can survive in the air, so it might be airborne in such places.
j. Wash groceries
Wash all your groceries thoroughly after buying them from the market. First, wash your hands and then wash fresh vegetables and fruits. CDC does not recommend washing the groceries with soap or anything else.
You should have a mandatory 14-day quarantine after traveling abroad. The virus has an incubation period of 2-14 days, so if you do not develop symptoms, you can end your quarantine and join your family.
You should also quarantine yourself if you have any symptoms. First, consult your doctor about your condition and then quarantine yourself. You should wear a mask and avoid contact with your family as you can transfer the virus to them.
Certain tips regarding mental and physical health can help you have a good immune system to fight off the virus. Following are best practices you should follow:
a. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
You should ensure that you and your children are getting fresh fruits and vegetables. Although it may be difficult to purchase and cook fresh vegetables and fruits on regular basis due to limited outside trips, whenever possible you should do so.
Fruits and vegetables have vitamins that will help your immune system. Fresh vegetables can also be stored to be used at a later date. You can even make large batches of soups, stews, or other dishes that can be stored for a long time.
b. Daily Physical Exercise
Exercise has an immediate pleasant effect on your health. It can make your mood good and reduce stress. Better physical health is essential for a good immune system to fight against the disease. There is also a close relationship between mental and physical health.
c. Eat Well
During stressful times, we usually tend to have negative food habits. But we should maintain good food habits to avail the benefits of food-mood connection. Balanced meals are very important in maintaining physical and mental health.
d. Get enough sleep
Sleep is a very vital component of a person’s health and well-being. It is often a neglected part of a person’s health. Sleep enables your body to repair itself and keeps your immune system strong.
e. Stay connected
You should stay connected with your friends and family members regularly to reduce stress. Isolation can be very dangerous for mental health and lead to an enormous amount of stress on your health.
You can stay connected with your friends through an online medium and do creative activities together. You should also try to reach out to people that you haven’t heard from for a while.
f. Find a hobby
Try to find a hobby or activity that you wanted to do but could not do due to lack of time. There are endless possibilities of what you can do like knitting, dancing, drawing, juggling, singing, or writing.
A hobby will keep your mind occupied and keep away the negative thoughts that lead to stress.
g. Get into a routine
Sometimes it might be tempting to sleep all day, eat meals at an irregular time, or not shower daily. These things might not be dangerous if done once a while but doing it over a long period might hurt your mental health. You should have a proper healthy routine that involves physical work too.
Covid-19 is a contagious disease that causes severe respiratory symptoms in an infected person. The severity of symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. The disease can show symptoms including fever, cough, flu, breathing problem, and loss of smell and taste in some people whereas most people will show no or mild symptoms. The disease should be differentiated from other respiratory viruses including the influenza virus as Covid-19 can cause more severe disease with a mortality rate of 2-3% in infected people. Covid-19 spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease can be avoided by wearing a mask, washing hands regularly, and following social distancing protocols. Mental and physical health should be focused on during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.