- Lisa Eng
4 EASY WAYS YOU CAN HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF THE COVID-19 VIRUS
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the COVID-19 virus, if not, where have you been for the last 9 months?
To debrief, the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) is a strain of Coronavirus, capable of spreading between humans and animals. This particular strain is believed to have originated in China in November/December of 2019, however, some believe it originated in parts of Italy, as early as August of 2019. Regardless, the virus is quite lethal, with a global death toll of roughly 1.26M. The global case number, however, is roughly 50.5M.
So, what makes this virus so bad?
Well, for starters, the virus itself is highly infectious, spreading through droplets produced by the infected, which spread through the surrounding air when they cough, sneeze or even exhale. These droplets quickly fall to surfaces as they are too heavy to remain in the air for prolonged periods of time. Furthermore, SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory pathogen, meaning it affects the respiratory processes. The most common symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of taste/smell. Groups who are the most at risk of severe illness from the virus are seniors aged 60+, as well as those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, however, this is not to say that people who are healthy and under the age of 60 are risk-free of developing severe symptoms/death if they contract the virus.
Here’s what you can do to stop the spread:
1) Wear a mask/face covering when indoors/out in public where there are large groups of people
Wearing a mask not only protects you from the virus, as the mask prevents inhalation of other’s droplets, but protects others as well if you are COVID-19 positive, as your droplets will not be able to spread through the surrounding area as effectively, if at all. In addition to helping slow/stop the spread of the coronavirus, wearing the mask may also help avoid the contraction of other viruses, such as the flu or the cold, which are also spread through droplets. Face masks must also be comfortable, to help avoid frequently touching your face to adjust the mask, which may lead to transferring bacteria to your face from your hands. Effective masks include surgical/medical masks, disposable non-medical masks, and three-layer cloth masks (fewer than 3 layers is not effective).
2) Frequently washing/sanitizing your hands
While I’m sure we’ve all been told as children to wash our hands frequently to help avoid getting sick, this is an important measure to protect yourself from the virus. Washing/sanitizing your hands removes dirt, kills bacteria present on the surface of the skin, while also helping to develop good habits in regard to personal hygiene.
3) Physical distancing
As the signs posted in most public spaces instruct, physical distancing is crucial in slowing and stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With distancing, we limit the risk of spreading the virus, for we increase the space between each other, thus decreasing the risk of coming into contact with the droplets of SARS-CoV-2 expelled via exhalation, sneezing, and coughing of infected persons. In addition, physical distancing eliminates most physical contact, helping to avoid transmitting bacteria and other viruses/illnesses.
4) Limiting contact with those outside of your “bubble”
During this pandemic, the concept of “bubbles” has come to be strongly enforced. Your bubble is the group of people (usually immediate family members) with whom you do not practice the COVID-19 safety measures (social distancing, masking, etc) to the same extent as the people you encounter out in the community/public. Limiting the contact you have with those outside your bubble/family decreases your exposure to others, effectively decreasing the risk of contracting the virus and spreading it. With school in a partially in-person format, limiting contact with people outside your bubble becomes more difficult, however, with the cohort system, students are able to some extent, limit contact with those outside of their immediate family/bubble.
Is it one or the other?
The short answer is no, these four safety measures are meant to be practiced together, basically, the more you can do, the more protected you’ll be, and the lower the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus is.
It is a common misconception that if we wear masks, we don’t have to distance, or if we distance, we don’t have to wear masks. Sure, by doing one or the other we’re decreasing the risk, but the more we do, the more effective, and the lower the risk will be.