First and foremost, don’t rely purely on the headlines. The only information that can be trusted is from the World Health Organisation, the NHS and the GOV.UK website. We’ve combed through each source to put together some facts, as well as dispel some of the fake news.
We all know that the worst thing that you can do in a crisis is panic. But this is easier said than done when news headlines reporting the spread of a novel Coronavirus warn of a global health pandemic, stock market crashes, and food shortages. People are in quarantine, people are dying, entire cities are on lock down. So, how are we meant to stay calm?
WHAT IS COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a type of coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that causes illness in humans and some animals. In humans, coronaviruses can cause respiratory infections with symptoms like coughing, fever and difficulty breathing. Some other types of coronavirus are Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
COVID-19 is the most recently discovered coronavirus and it seems to have originated in the Hubei province in China in December 2019. This current outbreak is the first time humans have encountered this specific coronavirus.
HOW DOES IT SPREAD?
COVID-19 is a droplet infection, meaning that it is spread by the droplets an infected person produces when they cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can travel through the air and be breathed in by other people, therefore infecting them.
However, the droplets are large and cannot travel very far in the air (only around 1 metre), so if you’re not in the immediate vicinity of an infected person, you probably won’t catch the virus by breathing in their droplets.
The problem is that these COVID-19 droplets fall and settle on surfaces like tables, door handles and phones. COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for an unspecified amount of time (current estimates are any time between a few hours and a few days), meaning if you touch a contaminated surface, and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose without washing your hands, you risk becoming infected. This is why there is such a huge emphasis on hand washing. It is the single most effective way of protecting yourself and should not be underrated.