According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
These viruses were originally transmitted between animals and people. SARS, for instance, was believed to have been transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS transfer from a type of camel to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. The spread of the coronavirus across China and to at least 10 other countries including the US, South Korea and Japan has prompted experts and health authorities to offer advice on how to reduce the chances of contracting the illness. Scientists are working hard to understand the virus, and Chinese health authorities have posted its full genome in international databases. Currently, there are no approved antivirals for this particular coronavirus, so treatment is supportive. For the sickest patients with this illness, specialized, aggressive care in an intensive care unit (ICU) can be lifesaving.
However, there are some proven ways to keep yourself healthy.
Never share your personal items
Toothbrushes, towels, razors, handkerchiefs, and nail clippers can all be sources of infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, and fungi). In kindergarten, you were taught to share your toys, but keep your hands to yourself. Now try to remember to keep personal items to yourself as well! For example, hepatitis B can be transmitted from sharing razors and toothbrushes.
Wash Your Hands
Use soap and warm water. Rub your hands really well for at least 15 seconds. Rub your palms, fingernail, in between your fingers, and the backs of your hands.if your hands do not look dirty, clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Rub the sanitizer all over your hands, especially under your nails and between your fingers, until your hands are dry
Clean your hands before touching or eating food. Clean them after you use the bathroom, take out the trash, change a diaper, visit someone who is ill, or play with a pet.
Cover your mouth and nose.
Many diseases are spread through sneezes and coughs. When you sneeze or cough, the germs can travel 3 feet or more! Cover your mouth and nose to prevent the spread of infection to others.
Use a tissue! Keep tissues handy at home, at work and in your pocket. Be sure to throw away used tissues and then clean your hands.
If you don’t have a tissue, cover your mouth and nose with the bend of your elbow or hands. If you use your hands, clean them right away.
Take a Daily Shower or Bath
A daily shower or bath aids in the cleansing of our bodies as well as eliminating any bodily odor or bacteria ridden skin. Personal bath towels are recommended. Cross infection is a risk that is unnecessary if possible.
Be a Smart Traveler
Infectious diseases can easily be picked up while traveling, particularly when traveling to resource-limited countries. If your travel destination is one where water is questionable, make sure to use a safe water source such as bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Keep in mind that ice cubes can sometimes be a “hidden” source of contaminated water.
Travelers to China should:
- Avoid non-essential travel to Hubei, including the province’s capital, Wuhan.
Avoid contact with sick people.
- Discuss travel to China with their health care provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.
- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- If you traveled to China recently and feel sick with fever or a cough or have difficulty breathing, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Do not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
If you are sick, avoid close contact with others.
If you are sick, stay away from other people or stay home. Don’t shake hands or touch others .
When you go for medical treatment, call ahead and ask if there’s anything you can do to avoid infecting people in the waiting room,
Nutrition and Diet
Eating healthy balanced meals is especially important to a person who is recovering from an illness. It is also important for someone who must be in bed or in a wheelchair for long periods of time
A healthy diet focuses on:
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Watch the News
A good understanding of current events can help you to make wise decisions about traveling or other recreational activities. For example, a bird flu outbreak in Asia may make you think twice about a trip you were planning.
The UN agency advises people to:
- Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
- Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
- Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
- Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods