CORONA VIRUS:  SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a type of virus.  As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.  Generally, this virus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, the elderly and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

The Coronavirus disease is a respiratory illness that was first detected in Wuhan, China.  Its symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  The virus is believed to spread like the flu when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you are at a higher risk of getting sick from the COVID-19, you should:

  • Stock up on supplies
    • Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak.
  • Take everyday precautions
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Take every day preventative actions
    • Clean your hands often
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
    • Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs, practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.

The complete clinical picture with regards to the COVID-19 is not fully known.  Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild to severe, including illness resulting in death.  While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases.  We have listed a few things below of what you should know in regards this

SYMPTOMS:
The symptoms of this new virus include a cough with a fever and shortness of breath.  The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.   Learn more about the symptoms associated with COVID-19.

HOW DOES THE VIRUS SPREAD?
Because it is a relatively new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets or sneeze droplets.  These droplets fall on people in the vicinity and can be directly inhaled or picked up on the hands and transferred when someone touches their face. 

HOW LONG DOES THE VIRUS SURVIVE?
This depends on a number of factors.

  • What surface the virus is on
  • Whether or not it is exposed to sunlight
  • Differences in temperature and humidity
  • And Exposure to cleaning products

Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so by 48 hours.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF CATCHING THE VIRUS?

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
    • Then throw the tissue away, and wash your hands, or use a gel sanitizer
  • Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or hand sanitizer, especially when you.
    • Get home or into work
    • Blow your nose, sneeze or cough
    • Eat or handle food.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

IS HAND SANITIZER EFFECTIVE:
The best way to protect yourself from infections like the COVID-19, is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water.  If soap or water are not available and your hands are visibly clean, then a gel hand sanitizer can be used.  But PROPER hand washing is the most effective method, and this should be your first choice.

WILL FACE MASKS PROTECT YOU:
Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals, but there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.  Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely in order to be effective.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SELF-ISOLATE:
Self-Isolation is about protecting others and slowing down the spread of COVID-19.  It is very important that anyone who has the virus, or might have been exposed to it, limits the number of people they come in contact with for 14 days.  This is the most effective way of preventing the virus from spreading.

If you have been asked to self-isolate because of your recent travel, but had no symptoms, make sure you report any cough, fever or shortness of breath to NHS!!!, telling them you are being asked to self-isolate because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you have been given a designated medical contact point, you can also call them for advice, and they will talk you through the next steps.

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU NEED TO BE TESTED FOR COVID-19
Your nose and throat will be swabbed by a Doctor or Nurse.  These samples are then safely transported to a lab.  Testing starts when your sample reaches the lab; it takes 24-48 hours for testing to be done.  Once the result is available, it is sent back to your Doctor or Nurse, who will then let you know the result and give you advice on what to do next. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, including some that cause “the common cold” in healthy humans. In fact, these viruses are found throughout the world and account for up to 30 percent of upper respiratory tract infections in adults.  This outbreak of COVID-19 marks the third time in recent years that a coronavirus has emerged to cause severe disease and death in some people. Earlier coronavirus outbreaks included SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which emerged in late 2002 and disappeared two years later, and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which emerged in 2012 and continues to affect people in small numbers.

The risk of contracting COVID-19 in the United States is currently low, but the situation is changing rapidly. One of the features that makes the virus so challenging to stay in front of is its long latency period before the characteristic flu-like fever, cough, and shortness of breath manifest. In fact, people infected with the virus may not show any symptoms for up to two weeks, allowing them to pass it on to others in the meantime.

You can track the reported cases in the United States on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

As the outbreak continues over the coming weeks and months, you can be certain that NIH and other U.S. public health organizations are working at full speed to understand this virus and to develop better diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.

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