Facts you should know about COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus) prevention tips
SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that spreads via infected respiratory droplets, causing COVID-19.
- COVID-19 is a new disease that can cause immune problems usually in individuals with medical problems. In the elderly, COVID-19 can cause a potentially fatal viral pneumonia that requires hospitalization. COVID-19 is the cause of the current pandemic.
- COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person by respiratory droplets infected with SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 can also spread by infected droplets that land on surfaces.
- Prevention and decreasing the risk of COVID-19 infection can occur when people follow the CDC recommendations, especially handwashing, social distancing, and decontamination.
- If you are COVID-19 positive, you can use face masks, isolation, quarantine, gloves for caregivers, and disinfection of surfaces to reduce the risk of infecting other people.
What is COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus)?
COVID-19 is a new disease first discovered in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019, that likely came from infected animals and spread to humans. SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The virus can cause severe respiratory problems mainly in people with medical problems, weakened immunity, and the elderly (age 60 and older). As of Mar. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-9 the cause of a worldwide pandemic. Some infections result in fatal viral pneumonia. The current mortality rate (death rate) is about 4.76%, depending on the data available.
How does COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus) spread?
COVID-19 spreads by an infected person coughing and/or sneezing, thus producing infected respiratory droplets. This is person-to-person spread, most often by inhalation. It also spreads by touching surfaces where infected droplets land followed by touching your eyes, nose, and/or face and mouth. There is no airborne spread like the measles virus. Unfortunately, some people can be infected and have little or no symptoms yet still be able to spread COVID-19 to others.
COVID-19 Infection Symptoms & Signs
Medical researchers estimate that the incubation period varies from 2 days to about 14 days. Symptoms may begin like the flu but go on to develop fever, cough, and shortness of breath that is severe enough to warrant hospitalization in many patients. Although early in this outbreak, Chinese researchers suggest that people who are infected but don't show symptoms (incubation period) may be contagious. This allows the virus to spread more effectively from person to person and makes it more difficult to isolate infected patients.
What can people do to prevent a COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus) infection?
The best way to prevent or decrease your risk of COVID-19 infection is to avoid contacting infected people and the places they have visited. Infected people can help minimize the chance of infecting other people by strict quarantine procedures that keep the infection isolated from others. Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent infection. Also, there is no antiviral drug available to prevent or treat infection. Some individuals suggest that taking zinc and/or vitamin C tablets help, but such data for preventing COVID-19 is lacking.
The CDC has specific recommendations for COVID-19 prevention that it constantly updates. The following is modified from the CDC (as of March 11, 2020). Remind everyone in your household of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
- Avoid close contact with sick people; distance yourself 6 feet or more from other people (also termed social distancing).
- Stay home when sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Cough and sneeze into your elbow if you can't cover with a tissue.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (for example, tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them first by using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. Depending on the surface type and environmental conditions, COVID-19 virus survives on surfaces for many hours. For disinfection, a list of products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved (EPA-registered household disinfectants) emerging viral pathogens claims is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products.
Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, prior to eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Immediately throw away used tissues. If soap and water are unavailable, use a hand sanitizer that has approximately 60% alcohol.
Make plans about how you will address the issues of child care, school closings, working from home, travel, and other daily life demands so you will be able to cope with these significant disruptions in your lifestyle.
How can people protect others if they are infected with COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus)?
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should immediately put on a face mask, keep 6 feet or more space between you and other people, put yourself in isolation, and contact your local health department and your doctor. If you isolate at home, interact with only one caregiver to reduce risk to others. Wear a face mask to reduce droplet spread and have gloves available, if possible, for that one person with whom you interact. In addition, if you are able, follow the CDC recommendations listed above.
Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2020
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Get your household ready for coronavirus disease 2019." Mar. 5, 2020. <https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html>.