The Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19 was recently declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The virus manifests in its hosts as a moderate upper respiratory tract illness, with symptoms similar to that of a common cold; a runny nose, cough, sore throat and a fever. The first few cases of the virus were seen in Wuhan, China in December 2019. According to Fox News, over 200,000 people worldwide have been infected by the fast spreading virus and over 8,000 have been confirmed dead.
Though the world is in pandemonium over Covid-19, the WHO estimates the current global mortality rate at 3.4%. Though this may seem low, note that these figures are just an estimate, due to the possibility of several unreported cases. Scientists still do not have enough information to give an accurate estimate on the severity of the virus. What we know for now is that the elderly and those with weaker immune systems are more likely to show adverse symptoms and die from the virus, however young people are not immune to it.
As of the 23rd of March, a total of 30 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria; twenty-two in Lagos, four in Abuja, two in Ogun, one in Ekiti and one in Oyo State. After receiving treatment at the Infectious Disease Centre in Yaba, two of the confirmed cases have tested negative.
Since there is still no specified cure available to the masses, prevention is our best bet. Here are five simple ways to protect yourself and those around you from being infected.
Wash and Sanitize Your Hands
I know we have all heard this several times, but it still needs to be emphasised. Washing your hands with soap and water is the most effective way to kill bacteria. According to the CDC (centre for disease control and prevention), washing your hands lowers the occurrence of respiratory illnesses in the general public by 16%. If you are in a situation where soap and water are not available, then hand sanitizers are your best bet. Your hand sanitizer should be made up of about 60-95% alcohol. The CDC explained that alcohol based sanitizers effectively reduce the number of microbes on hands. If you ever find yourself relying solely on sanitizers, remember that sanitizers do not kill as many germs as soap and water.
Get Enough Sleep
People tend to downplay the importance of sleep. Eric J. Olson, M.D of the Mayo clinic explained that while sleeping the body releases proteins called cytokines. These cytokinesis help to combat infectious diseases. Lack of sleep elevates the body’s stress levels which increases the production of the Cortisol hormone. Elevated levels of Cortisol in the body, suppresses the immune system.
Adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Teenagers need about 9-10 hours while children need 10 or more hours of sleep.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excessive drinking can alter the balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut. Disrupting the barrier created by the healthy gut microbes, allows more bacteria to get into the bloodstream. Excessive alcohol decreases the functionality of the immune cells in the upper respiratory system.
Alcohol lovers should not be disheartened, though happy hour might not be as exciting, drinking in moderation is fine. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism in the United States defines moderate drinking as up to fourteen alcohol beverages for men and seven for women in a week.
Take Your Vitamins
Eating fruits and vegetables is the easiest and most interesting way of ingesting essential vitamins. Citrus fruits contain high levels of Vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. Other foods that help to build up the immune system include chilli peppers, ginger, garlic, spinach and yogurt.
Taking Vitamin supplements can be quite beneficial, it’s best you consult your doctor or local pharmacist beforehand.
(Photo: USA Today)
This is perhaps the hardest but yet the most necessary part of staying safe as a collective at this time. The WHO recommends that we maintain a distance of 1 meter (3 feet) from each other. Staying too close to an infected person could lead to you inhaling the virus in the small liquid droplets they release when they cough and sneeze. Social distancing has been shown to significantly lower the spread of the virus in Australia and China.
Yes, it can be quite difficult to keep a distance of 1 meter at gatherings or in public transportation that is why it is strongly advised that we all stay home in the meantime.
If you are experiencing any symptoms kindly seek medical attention and self quarantine. You can contact the NCDC on 080097000010.
Most importantly, do not panic, take this time as a much needed break from your usual routine. Though it can get quite lonely, try to get more in tune with yourself, revisit old hobbies, discover new ones, stop procrastinating and finish that project or in some cases, just start!