An illness known as the ‘coronavirus’ has hit the hospitals and headlines over the last few weeks.
Coronavirus is the name for a group of known viruses that cause familiar problems ranging from common cold-like symptoms to pneumonia. Recently, however, people have contracted a new mutation of this virus, known as a new or ‘novel’ coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV.
This strain was first identified in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019. The novel nature of the virus means that some aspects of it are unknown and so health officials are advising extra precautions.
Should We Be Worried?
Probably not – we do know that coronavirus, like any illness, is more likely to be severe in people with pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung disease. Even in at-risk groups, however, the risk of contracting coronavirus and becoming very unwell from it is low.
General health advice remains the same – most people are at very low risk. The main concern about this new strain of the virus is that we don’t yet know the patterns of spread and the effects as we do with other infectious diseases.
Health authorities are keeping their websites and advice lines up-to-date with the latest developments.
How To Protect Yourself From Coronavirus
Similar viruses spread through an infected cough or nasal droplets, which can linger on surfaces for many hours. The best way to avoid spreading these germs is to maintain very stringent hygiene precautions – washing hands and using hand sanitizer is a good start. It can be especially important, however, to avoid contact with infectious people.
Reduce the spread of infectious respiratory illnesses through:
- Effective handwashing and use of hand sanitizer.
- Avoid contact with people who are already unwell, or if you have symptoms yourself – effectively quarantine yourself!
- Catch coughs and sneezes in a paper handkerchief and bin it straight away – then rewash those hands.
Some people are using face masks in public to prevent the spread of disease – the World Health Organisation does not routinely advise this as it’s unlikely to reduce your risk of catching illness and involves significant use of resources. Wearing masks may be recommended to people who already have suspected the 2019 coronavirus.
What If I Have Symptoms Of Coronavirus?
If you are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, the advice remains the same – stay indoors and rest, stay hydrated and limit your exposure to other people. Simple analgesia may help with pain and fever. Most upper respiratory tract infections will clear with this kind of treatment. If you become seriously ill, if you’re not getting better after several days, or if you develop other symptoms, seek medical advice – preferably without leaving your home, initially.
Remember, colds are prevalent, and it is still more likely that a known, common virus causes your symptoms. If you have recently traveled to China, seek advice from your doctor, whether you have symptoms or not.
Staying Healthy Is The Best Way To Reduce Your Risk Of Illness
Health advice remains the same – healthy lifestyles, tip-top immune systems, and careful management of existing conditions is the best way to stay well. Reducing your risk of catching illnesses in the first place is the first step, but making sure your baseline health is as good as possible can go a long way to guarantee that any illness you do catch will not become too serious.
As always, healthy eating, with a focus on those nourishing foods with high vitamin and mineral content – fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins, is a great – and tasty – way to stay well. Vitamin C is always recommended to reduce the risk of catching illnesses and becoming very unwell when you do.
“I have not seen any flu yet that was not cured or markedly ameliorated by massive doses of vitamin C.” (Robert F. Cathcart, MD)
Additionally, exercise, fresh air, and good company are great ways to stay healthy. Stress is known to contribute to both mental and physical well-being negatively, and outbreaks of illness with a high amount of media attention can be very worrying. If you have a pre-existing condition, a compromised immune system due to medications or disease, or you care for someone at high risk of catching illnesses; this can be a cause for concern. Remember, common illnesses are common – it’s in the name – and the novel coronavirus is still considered to pose a very low risk to the vast majority of individuals, even those exposed.
If you have any concerns, it’s always okay to seek help.