The goal of this post is to provide an easily digestible summary of the most important information on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation.
The first version of this article is on March 20, 2020, so it may not include some of the old basic information that I will assume most people interested in knowing already know (what it is, how it started, how it spreads, etc.). I may or may not add some information later.
– As reported before, the risk for serious disease and death from COVID-19 is higher in older age groups (60 and up), and among people with serious underlying health conditions (diabetes, respiratory issues, weakened immune system, etc.).
– HOWEVER, a CDC report (U.S.) shows that that 38 per cent of the 508 Americans hospitalized with the disease were between 20 and 54 years old. According to Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infectious disease expert in Toronto, younger people can’t pass this virus off as the common cold or flu. “There are going to be individuals who, for sometimes clear reasons, sometimes unclear reasons, who are young, who will still have severe complications, related to disease.” (Source)
– Vaisman adds: “But it’s still more likely overall for a younger person to experience a mild form of COVID-19. It’s still most likely that if young people acquire the infection, the most likely outcome is it won’t be severe…They just need to be aware. It’s a fine line of having awareness and feeling anxiety over an issue.” (Source)
– IMPORTANT: Even if a person doesn’t experience severe symptoms, they could pass it on to someone at high risk of severe outcomes. 50-75% of COVID-19 cases are completely asymptomatic but contagious. (Source)
– Different countries may have different outcomes and statistics: Vaisman cautioned against comparing Canada to the U.S., where health care systems are different and the population has higher levels of obesity, smoking, and diabetes. Or Italy, where the population is older and they had very little warning compared to Canada, the U.S., and many other countries. (Source)
– There is a shortage of tests, medical supplies, hospital beds, and medical personnel everywhere. If you want to donate, it is better to donate supplies, not money, and donate directly to a hospital, not through a third party. It it also better to coordinate with the doctors in charge directly about donating, volunteering, or arranging logistics.
– IMPORTANT: It’s not that the mortality rate from COVID-19 is incredibly high. It’s that it takes a heavy toll on the medical system because many people get sick at the same time. Also, when the number of cases rises, hospitals in the city are on pace to run out of crucial medical equipment, including face masks and gloves if new supplies do not arrive soon. And people still get sick with other illnesses and get injured. All of this is not even mentioning economic, social, and psychological problems it creates.
– It is crucial to protect medical personnel because if they get seriously sick or die or are quarantined, then there won’t be anybody left to take care of the sick. Many work excruciating hours in very difficult conditions and haven’t seen their loved ones for a while, which is heroic and should be celebrated.
– Early and massive testing is vital to gather data and stopping the virus, as it’s been demonstrated in Italy where one small town at the center of the outbreak has cut infections virtually to zero by testing all 3,300 in town and isolating the 3 percent who tested positive. This led to infection rate 10 days later dropping down to 0.3 percent. (Source)
Tips How to Protect Yourself and Others:
– Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20-30 seconds. Do it every time you come home and before you eat.
– When in public, don’t touch things if you don’t have to. When you use a public bathroom to wash your hands, don’t touch the handle or the door when leaving to avoid recontamination. You can use a napkin or paper to open the door if needed.
– Ventilate your living space. Open the windows at least once every few hours.
– Doctors recommend not wearing the same clothes at home that you wear outside.
– Isolation and social distance help in stopping the spread. Remember, even if you feel certain that you will be okay, you may directly or indirectly infect somebody who won’t. Furthermore, the incubation period is up to 2 weeks and many cases are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms. In these cases, you may not know you carry the virus and can spread it to others.
– Unless you’re in the high-risk group or need serious medical attention, don’t panic. Be prepared but don’t panic-buy. Having essentials and long-lasting food for a month is wise, but you don’t need to buy 3 supermarket isles of food and do it in one visit to your local store. Building a fort out of toilet paper may give you a false sense of control, but buying more than you need is not necessary. This creates a shortage of items and supplies, which hurts those who actually need it and can’t get it now.
– In some places, doctors consult and prescribe medication remotely, so if you need to refill your prescription or get antibiotics or talk to a doctor, you can do it without going to a hospital or needing to see a doctor in person.
– IMPORTANT: don’t be inconsiderate. Don’t try to take advantage of a horrific situation by exploiting your fellow human beings. For example, buying out all the baby food in your local store and reselling it for a higher price. Respect each other and each other’s needs.
– Take care of your health and stay safe. Exercise, get proper rest, and so on. Even if you believe you will be okay, remember that the hospitals are incredibly busy. So if you have an accident or need to see a specialist for something more serious, you may not be able to, it may take a very long time, or you may not receive proper medical care. Prevention is the best approach here.
– Find stuff to do. Even if you’re stuck at home, there are many things you can do online: taking virtual museum tours, watching live musical performances, attending online seminars, learning new skills, reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts, chatting with friends, playing video games.
– Even if in quarantine, stay in touch with your loved ones, friends, and community. Again, you can do certain things online together. For example, in Italy, people sing and play music together, but separately (link to video).
– Take care of your mental health. Even if you don’t have any physical ailments or illnesses, you may have psychological and emotional ones. These issues may intensify in a situation like we currently have, and it’s not that the problems you had before disappeared either. Reach out to people if you need to talk. Talk to a professional if you can (many, including myself, work online).
– Help others if you can. For instance, I’ve seen some people taking initiative in shopping for and delivering food to the elderly in their local area. Or talking to those who feel lonely because they want social contact. Just being supportive and empathetic to others can go a long way.
Stay safe, and take care of yourself and others.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with others to spread awareness and help more people.