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Coronavirus 101: What You Can Do to Avoid It

Fanni Kaszás 2020.03.05.

With the spread of the new coronavirus in Europe and the first confirmed cases in Hungary, it is of the utmost priority to keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy and safe while avoiding panic, especially as fake news and misinformation about the disease are also spreading on social media. We have gathered information on the virus to help you take reasonable precautions based on credible sources such as the WHO website and the Hungarian Ministry of Interior’s operative team.

A doctor in an international research group recently stated that fake news and misinformation spreading in the news and social media sites are more devastating than the spread of the disease itself. We are trying to compete against this fake information with fresh, up-to-date news.

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Besides gathering credible information to assess the risks you are facing, it is also important to provide children facts and explain what is going on, as well as give them clear information about how to reduce their risk of being infected by the disease in words that they can understand.

What is coronavirus?

According to WHO, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. The ‘Chinese coronavirus’ spreading in the world right now is the most recently discovered type, COVID-19.

Should we worry that the disease reached Hungary?

It seems that to date, eighty percent of people infected with coronavirus recover from it after a mild illness, while fourteen percent develop complications (such as pneumonia) and only six percent reach critical condition. About 2% of people with the disease have died. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems, or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness, so it is of utmost importance to seek medical help if once noticing any of the symptoms. (However, some experts emphasize first contacting them by phone, since by visiting a health center, those probably infected can pose a serious threat to other patients waiting there).

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Symptoms you should monitor

The most common symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, tiredness, and dry cough, while some infected people may also have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. Do not take antibiotics as they do not work against viruses – as they only work on bacterial infections – and do not prevent the coronavirus. There are people who catch the coronavirus, but do not develop symptoms, yet may infect those around them. This is why it is really important in any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing – especially if you have recently traveled to affected areas – to seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection.

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Precautions to avoid disease

Although the chance to catch the disease or suffer from a serious illness due to it is still relatively low, it is important to take the risk of infection seriously. WHO recommends the following habits to be integrated into daily life to avoid the epidemic:

  • Wash hands regularly and thoroughly, with alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into an elbow, throw and dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Maintain at least 1-meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. If you are too close, you may breathe in the droplets, including the virus.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially on public transport and before washing your hands. Hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, especially if you have traveled in areas where the disease has already spread. If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical help as soon as possible.

photo: World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO also warns how important it is to be intentional and thoughtful when communicating on social media and show support to those infected with the disease, as discrimination and stigmatization may drive infected people to hide their illness and not seek medical help, and it may also discourage them from exercising healthy behaviors.

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Fake news and misinformation

WHO also gathered some of the fake news and misinformation about the virus and its “possible cures.” They call everyone’s attention to the fact that hand dryers, ultraviolet lamps, alcohol, or the aforementioned antibiotics are not effective ways to kill the virus. Just like rinsing your nose with saline, eating garlic, or sesame oil are not effective ways to prevent catching the disease.

featured photo: World Health Organization (WHO)