The world has been hit by an unexpected pandemic, meaning many lives have been tragically lost and many countries have been placed in lockdown situations to slow the spread of infection. It has come as a shock to us all, leaving us in unusual living situations and affecting the economy massively. We are all left wondering, what exactly is COVID-19, how can we prevent contracting it ourselves and how can we help it from spreading further?
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and a dry cough. Some sufferers may also have aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
The WHO states that the disease spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
The World Health Organization is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Its role is to direct international health within the United Nations’ system and to lead partners in global health responses.
By taking the following precautions, the WHO states that you can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19:
• Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
• Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
• 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.
• 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.
• Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
For more information about the COVID-19 outbreak including more answers to frequently asked questions and further in-depth advice from the WHO, visit:
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