The world really is a beautiful place and when we all band together that beauty shines. We’re certainly experiencing trying times and with this novel coronavirus pandemic on our doorstep it’s also a good opportunity to ‘level up’.
With so much confusion and misinformation out there it can be hard to decipher it all. The purpose of this blog is to give a little background knowledge and then the most practical tips for people to stay safe and help control the rate of spread of this virus – to hopefully save lives!
The information I am about to share is current on 21 March 2020, but may change in the coming days as we learn more.
First of all, what’s all the fuss about?
This novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19 is very contagious and quite lethal. The fatality rate of it, as reported worldwide by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is about 3% compared to that of the seasonal influenza which is about 0.1%. This means it will kill 30 times the number of people it infects compared to the flu. When looking at raw numbers that’s about 1 in every 33 people.
We need to flatten the curve.
Yes, we have a world class medical system here in Australia and we’d like to think we can manage this better than most. If however, everyone gets infected at the same time, the health care system will break and many people who would otherwise survive with treatment will not be able to be cared for and will die.
So if our efforts can slow down the rate of spread, it will give our health care system a chance to keep up, look after people and save lives.
Are we headed for a total lockdown? Maybe, however the more people that adhere to the guidelines that have been released to date and the more people do the right thing, the less chance of it being necessary.
So keep reading on if you want to save a life or indeed possibly many.
How does the virus infect us?
This is a really important question to ask, because when we understand this, we can then understand how to stop it from spreading.
The virus gets into our own body’s cells and then uses our cells like a factory to mass replicate more virus. The virus enters the body’s cells via a thing called an ACE2 receptor. Why is it important to know this? Because most of those cells with this ACE2 receptor are located in the nose, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract as well as the liver.
This means the opening of our nose is a key site of entry as well as through our mouths and especially the things we put in our mouths or things we eat.
Where do we pick up the virus from?
Quite frankly the superficial answer to this question is from other people infected with the virus. A person may be infectious and shedding the coronavirus about three days before they show any signs or symptoms of infection and indeed well after their symptoms have subsided. The standard 14 days is ok if we’re considering droplets. This refers to the virus shedding in the saliva and mucous, if for example one sneezes this will spread it about 1-1.5 metres – therefore the social distancing regulations.
But here’s the kicker you don’t hear about in the media. Remember those AEC2 receptors that allow the virus into our body’s cells. Well they’re in the gastrointestinal tract. As of a couple of days ago, there is evidence the virus may be present in stools for up to 32 days after recovery from symptoms. And there is evidence the faecal-oral route is a mode of transmission. So if someone is infected, and doesn’t wash their hands properly after toileting then prepares your food, there’s a chance you could get it.
As of today 21st March 2020, the latest research shows that at room temperature, the virus can survive for up to 3 days on a plastic or stainless steel surface and 24 hours on Cardboard. Now think about all the surfaces in public places and cardboard packaging you touch daily?
So as well as being airborne, the virus can be transmitted through surface contact and indeed, it appears that touch is the dominant way it is spread. An example of this is if you touched a contaminated surface like a door handle and then touched your face or prepared your food, there’s a chance you’ll get infected.
But only old and sick people die from this virus?
Young, fit and healthy people seem to be at lower risk of succumbing to this virus. But read on, because no-one is safe.
Yes, it’s true that to date those most vulnerable to succumbing to this virus are those over 60 and those who have another underlying illness like cardiovascular disease or diabetes. But what is just being discovered now is that up to 40% of people who have been infected with this virus and survived are developing liver dysfunction or liver disease.
How does this affect me?
This is the part where you get to save a life or maybe many. Prevention is better than cure. So if you don’t contract COVID-19 in the first place that’s the best outcome, because it means you’re also less likely to spread it.
Remember above where I just said young, fit and healthy people seem to be at lower risk of succumbing to this virus. They’re also the people most likely to spread it – sometimes unknowingly. This is because their symptoms may be mild and they may not understand the severity of the situation. And let’s face it, 14 days in isolation is not fun for anyone.
The below graphic from the World Health Organisation outlines the symptoms of coronavirus and therefore the first indicators that you should self-isolate and get advice from your doctor on what to do. So you could save lives, by simply staying at home!
So what can I do about this?
There’s a quote by Abu Bakr “Knowledge without action is a waste of time”.
The good news is that the answer to this question is simple and the below actions may seem easy, but need to be carried out.
And don’t think they only apply in public spaces but need to be taken back to your very own home.
Practice excellent hand washing and hygiene – an excellent source of information on this is at Hand Hygiene Australia - https://www.hha.org.au/ and the below graphic – courtesy of the WHO - is a resource available from that site.
Hand sanitiser only works on clean hands. So a thorough handwash at the start of the day, after toileting and before & after meals is essential and cannot be replaced by hand rubbing gels.
- Avoid touching your face – remember we talked about the nose and mouth being the main points of entry for the virus into the body’s cells. Well here is where you apply that knowledge! By not touching your face unless you have thoroughly washed your hands first.
- Prevent body contact – avoid handshakes. You may now know all about hand hygiene and wash your hands well, but do you know if the other person knows about it and actually does it? So if they’ve just coughed into their hands or been to the toilet and not washed correctly, it’s on their hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow – this will contain it, and stop those aerosols from spreading as well as prevent your hands from getting contaminated.
- Disinfect surfaces like door knobs, tables, desks and handrails – there is a term called fomites – its objects like these that can be contaminated and transmit infection. The good news is that most hospital grade disinfectants will neutralise the virus.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows and adjusting air-con. If there are airborne, infected droplets this will help remove them from the environment.
- Handle food carefully – remember the story above about the person preparing the food with contaminated hands. This would contaminate the food and potential infect all those who are eating it. Good and thorough hand hygiene, before food preparation, handling and eating are critical.
- Limit food sharing – especially the utensils and plates etc.
- If you’re sick – isolate yourself, stay home and don’t spread it around. Hopefully after reading everything above this is the most obvious message we can get across. This is the easiest thing you can possibly do to save a life.
- Importantly, even if you’re not sick, avoid contact with those who are at highest risk of succumbing to this virus as much as practical. That is any person with a medical condition or elderly people.
How will it end?
You’re now empowered with some knowledge to minimise the rate of spread of this virus which will save lives. So please, spread it around and educate people. After knowing everything above, we can hopefully now see that we can limit the rate of spread of this virus and the world is not going to end. Yes, the economy will be affected and yes people will get sick and yes some will die.
There is also great news on the horizon that antiviral medication we already have available is effective in treating this viral infection and a vaccine is in human clinical trials. These vaccines are still a way off, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and there is a way out.
Until that time arrives we have to be vigilant, and put the knowledge into action in order to save lives.
Eating healthy wholefoods like fresh fruit and vegetables, washing your hands with normal liquid soap, practicing good hygiene and cough etiquette and respecting other peoples’ personal space requirements especially those of the elderly are what is important.
We’re all in it together and united we stand whereas divided we fall. I believe in the goodness of people and know it will prevail. We have some very smart people working tirelessly on this and have no doubt that eventually this will simply be a history lesson and a good reason to stay up to date with vaccinations to prevent it from ever getting this bad again.
To you and your families I bid farewell, to stay safe and stay healthy. To those directly affected by the coronavirus I wish a speedy and complete recovery.
All the best and God bless from
Define Dental is the longest operating Gold Coast dentist. Located in Benowa on the Gold Coast, Define Dental has a team of dentists, led by Dr Les Jabbour, all of whom are committed to helping you achieve your best oral health and overall health. With a focus on education and raising awareness the Define Dental team is committed to putting the health of all patients where it should be - first and foremost. Learn more about our approach to care for our patients when you book an appointment today on 5597 2100.