What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is the name given to a potentially fatal virus that has symptoms including fever, tiredness, and dry cough. There are hundreds of viruses in this family, but the one that has gathered media attention over recent months causes the disease known as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).
COVID-19 thought to have originated from a wet market selling both live and dead animals in Wuhan, China, and it has spread exponentially all around the world. At the moment, there is no cure for the disease itself, and working on prevention is key. While the death rate is currently very low, the disease itself is highly contagious, and best practices should be undertaken to prevent further spreading.
Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus
One of the most alarming things about COVID-19 is the incubation period. Officials estimate an incubation period between one and fourteen days. However, some sources are claiming it can be as long as 24 days 1. Either way, this is a long time to have a virus without displaying the symptoms.
As COVID-19 is a new disease, there is little information on how contagious the virus is during the incubation period. However, there have been several reports of the virus being transmitted without people displaying symptoms. It's this aspect that makes the rapid spread of the virus to be particularly concerning.
For this reason, people who believe they may have come into contact with someone with coronavirus should exercise caution and isolate themselves for a period of two weeks. There are steps that people can take to make sure they have the lowest chance possible of contracting the disease. COVID-19 is proving to especially dangerous to people who are elderly or who have weakened immune systems. As such, extra care should be taken if anyone in your household fits that criteria.
One of the most effective ways that you can help combat the spread of coronavirus is by washing your hands. You should aim to wash your hands often with soap and water, washing for at least 20 seconds each time. It may sound obvious, but you should wash your hands after each visit to the bathroom, before eating or preparing a meal, and immediately after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
When washing your hands, pay close attention to the gaps between your fingers and the back of your hand. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put together this guide detailing the ideal way to wash your hands. How you dry your hands is just as important as how you wash them as the friction reduces the likelihood of transferring microbes and microorganisms.
FDA-Approved Cleaning Products
The Environmental Protection Agency has recently released a list of antimicrobial products that it have been deemed effective at fighting the virus. As coronavirus is an enveloped virus, it's classified as one of the easiest viruses to kill with the appropriate cleaning products. Following manufacturers' application, the FDA adds products to this list based on EPA-approved claims for "killing harder-to-kill viruses".
Five Products to Help You Stay Safe
As mentioned, there is no official cure, and at the moment it seems that the best thing you can do is take preventative measures. The following five products can help you and your family massively reduce the likelihood that you contract coronavirus. It's important to remember to pay close attention to people around you who may be ill. If you have serious concerns about someone you regularly spend time with being ill, you should minimize your contact with them and advise them to seek medical attention immediately. It's important to note that coronavirus is exactly that - a virus. Antibacterial products have no affect on viruses and will not protect you from contracting COVID-19.
1. Hand Sanitizer
Keeping your hands clean is a hugely important part of staying safe from coronavirus. It has been proven to reduce respiratory illnesses in the general population by 16-21%2. When you're not at home, you should make an effort to keep your hands clean. This can be a challenge if soap and water aren't readily available. As such, you should make sure to take hand sanitizer with you if at all possible.
Reports are suggesting that hand sanitizer that's over 60 percent alcohol content is the most effective, so make sure that your hand sanitizer is of this strength or higher. If your hands aren't visibly dirty, using hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of viruses. Hands that are visibly dirty won't be cleaned as effectively without the grime being removed first.
2. Facial Tissues
Tissues are an important part of preventing any pathogen from spreading. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue instead of your hands when you cough or sneeze helps you to reduce the spread of germs. When you've finished coughing or sneezing, it's vital to dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as possible afterwards to kill any pathogen that you didn't catch in the tissue.
Remember, as coronavirus can be incubated for quite a while before symptoms are displayed, doing this helps you to protect your family, friends, colleagues, and anybody you come into close contact with. While tissues don't provide a cure or treatment, they certainly help to control the spread of illnesses. Tissues are so important in managing this virus that the CDC is insisting employers provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees3.
3. Hand Soap
Similar to using hand sanitizer when you're out and about, you should be using soap to wash your hands regularly when you're at home or the office. Hand-washing is vital to avoid catching and/or transmitting coronavirus. In fact, washing hands regularly can reduce the chances of contracting a respiratory illness, such as COVID-19, by up to 21%4. With soap products, branding isn't really important unless there's a certain scent that you prefer. Just focus on ensuring that what you're buying is good quality and from a brand that you can trust, and you're unlikely to have any issues. It doesn't have to be anti-bacterial, because again, coronavirus is a virus. In fact, the FDA says that antibacterial soap is pointless. If you're looking for a recommendation, Mrs. Meyers Clean Day is always a solid choice.
4. Surface Cleaners
It's possible to contract coronavirus by coming in contact with infected surfaces or objects. At present, it's not known how contagious the disease is when it remains on a surface, but it's not thought to be the main way in which the virus spreads. Either way, touching a surface or object that has the virus on it (i.e. a door handle or a keyboard), and then touching your mouth or nose can spread diseases.
While it's not practical to do this while you're out in public, it's essential to do this in your place of work and at home. Use surface cleaners to help you to keep your home and workplace sterile and safe and to reduce the chances of catching coronavirus from a surface or object.
The EPA claims that the most effective kinds of cleaners include diluted household bleach solutions and alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol5. Most common household disinfectants have been deemed to be effective, starting with your traditional Lysol and Clorox.
5. Face Masks
The World Health Organization (WHO) only recommends wearing a mask if you're coughing or sneezing, or if you're in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. However, wearing a face mask while out in public can help you from breathing in germs and potentially contracting coronavirus, so it's not a bad idea (especially in planes/trains/busses). If you're thinking about wearing a face mask for COVID-19 protection, it's essential you understand what type of mask will actually help and why. The WHO offers this advice about when and how to use masks. N95 masks are those that are National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved to filter 95% of airborne particles, and you can browse a variety of N95 face masks here.
Using Common Sense to Keep Safe from COVID-19
The precautions recommended by the WHO to reduce your exposure to COVID-19 are important to be aware of. If you believe you've been exposed to the disease and think you're experiencing symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention straight away. By following the precautions and product recommendations we've shared here, you can minimize your chances of catching or spreading coronavirus.