Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which can infect both humans and animals. They can range from the common flu to more serious illnesses and in recent years have been the cause of major outbreaks like the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Compared to SARS, COVID-19 appears to be highly transmissible as most cases are mild and resemble a cold. The symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, fever and shortness of breath (more details are provided in the FAQ below).
If you would like to learn more, you can view an informational YouTube video from John Hopkins Medicine here, or visit the websites listed below.
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
You should exercise responsible research habits and ensure that:
(1) the information is from a reputable organisation (such as a regional or national newspaper or your country's health authorities);
(2) the author is an authoritative source (i.e. they hold an advanced degree in public health, epidemiology, or a related field);
(3) or, in the case that they lack the proper credentials, you should do more research to verify their claims from more reliable sources before accepting their advice.
The following information is from the World Health Organisation Myth buster webpage and has been reproduced here for your convenience. This selection of myths and facts are limited and it is recommended that you visit their site for the full version.
Myth COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Fact From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Myth Cold weather and snow can kill the new coronavirus.
Fact There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.
Myth Taking a hot bath will prevent the new coronavirus disease
Fact Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that coud occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Myth The new coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites.
Fact To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.
Myth Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus.
Fact No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but dont develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How likely am I to catch COVID-19?
The risk depends on where you are - and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.
For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. Its important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go. WHO publishes daily updates on the COVID-19 situation worldwide.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.
How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
The incubation period means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.
Australia Department of Health
Austria Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection
Canada Public Health Agency of Canada
Czech Republic Ministry of Health
Denmark Ministry of Health
European Union European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Finland Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
France Ministry of Health
Germany Federal Centre for Health Education | Robert Koch Institute (federal government agency responsible for disease control and prevention) | Information index
Indonesia Ministry of Health
Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
Malaysia Ministry of Health
Singapore Ministry of Health
South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare
Switzerland Federal Office of Public Health
United Kingdom National Health Service
United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Additionally, there are numerous resources which are a good starting point if you wish to understand this pandemic better:
Academic Institutions & Medical Journals:
Elsevier Novel Coronavirus Information Center
John Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (COVID-19 tracking)
The Lancet COVID-19 Resource Centre
The New England Journal of Medicine COVID-19 webpage
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) (Australia) Coverage on Coronavirus outbreak
BBC (United Kingdom) Coronavirus pandemic explainers
Channel News Asia (Singapore) Latest news on COVID-19
DW (Germany) COVID-19 news coverage
Foreign Affairs (United States) Coverage of Coronavirus
France 24 (France) COVID-19 news coverage
Guardian (United Kingdom) COVID-19 news coverage
New York Times (United States) COVID-19 news coverage
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) Coverage on Coronavirus outbreak
Other [Note: Read with Caution as author(s) are not authoritative sources]:
Kurzgesagt In a Nutshell YouTube video 'The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do'
Tomas Pueyo Medium opinion piece
If there are any resources you think should be added, please do feel free to telegram Amerion and it may be included in this dispatch.
An Informational Dispatch on Coronavirus (COVID-19)