Panic, concern and uncertainty make up just some of the emotions running high throughout the international community as COVIS-19 spreads. Travel plans are being cancelled, shops are running out of hand sanitizer, and with international students being called home, all of us are unsure of how seriously we should take this pandemic.
COVID-19, the disease caused by Coronavirus, was just a story on the news up until a few weeks ago. Now, with 116 cases in the UK, even the most confidant among us are beginning to worry.
James Robb, MD UC San Diego–one of the first molecular virologists to work on coronaviruses in the 1970s– recently released a letter offering advice in how to slow wide spread of the virus.
Firstly, do your best to keep your hands off of any potentially contaminated surfaces, such as bathroom or commercial doors. Avoid handshaking–try to greet people without coming into contact with their hands. Use your elbow or knuckle to flip light switches and elevator buttons.
Secondly, use disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer dispensers when available in public. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and use a greater than 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer when you return home from any activity. Try to keep hand sanitizer at the entrance to your home and car.
Third, if possible sneeze into a tissue and then discard. Try not to sneeze into your elbow as clothing can carry the virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more.
COVID-19 is spread in large droplets through coughing and sneezing, it’s lung specific, the air will not infect you but all surfaces where the virus could be can. Everything that comes into contact with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. You will not be infected unless you are directly sneezed or coughed on, but you can infect yourself by touching your nose and mouth with dirty hands–we touch our nose and mouth on average 90 times a day. Wearing a surgical mask can keep you from touching your face, but it will not protect you if you receive a direct cough or sneeze on your nose or mouth.
Stock up with zinc lozenges, if you can. Zinc Lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking the virus, as well as most other viruses, from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use them several times a day if you feel any cold-like symptoms–its best to lie down when you take a lozenge in order for it to dissolve in the back of your throat.
While we all hope for the best, the virus will most likely be wide-spread by April or May. Humans have never seen this snake-associated virus and have no internal defense against it. Massive worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of the virus, but no drugs or vaccines will be available this year–only symptomatic support. However, 18 people in the UK have since recovered from the virus and 45 cases are being treated at home.