COVID-19: Information and Advice
COVID-19 (or the Coronavirus) is a viral pandemic currently affecting Australia and the entire world. State and federal governments are putting increasingly rigid restrictions in place to help slow the virus' spread, and while they're important to be aware of, that's not what this page is about.
Below, we have collected various videos, pictures, and pieces of information, to put together a comprehensive COVID-19 guide to help you understand and combat the virus. We hope you find it useful.
What is it?
Put simply, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, caused by a virus infecting the lungs. Here is a comprehensive, helpful video that explains the complexities of the virus in a very accessible way:
Am I at risk?
While we don't know everything about the virus, it is clear that it has a greater impact on older people than younger. While no age range is completely immune, older people experience more acute symptoms and are more likely to die from COVID-19.
This graph depicts how people of various ages in some of the most severely impacted countries, have fared with the disease. The general trend is that the older you are (particularly over 70), the worse of an impact the virus has.
Image Credit: @AndyBiotech on Twitter
There are several health conditions that can place you in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
Chronic lung disease
Moderate to severe asthma
Serious heart conditions
People who are immunocompromised (including cancer treatment)
If you are in any of the above categories, please take extra precautions to avoid the virus by making sure you are washing your hands often and practicing social distancing; both of which are outlined below.
What should I do?
It is currently understood that COVID-19 most commonly spreads through surface to hand contact, followed by hand to face contact, entering the body through mouth, nose or eyes.
Because of this, it is vitally important that you are washing your hands at every opportunity you get. Especially if you are working out of home or leaving the house for any reason.
Hand washing, simple though it seems, is one of the most effective ways we currently have for fighting the virus. In contrast to hand sanitizer, hand washing doesn't attempt to kill the virus, but instead removes it completely from your hands. Make sure you wash with warm water and soap and follow this guide for a thorough technique.
Social distancing is the practice of minimizing your contact with other people to a bare minimum so as to limit the spread of a disease such as COVID-19. It means only interacting face-to-face with the people that you live with, and staying at home at all times except for purchasing necessities and outdoor exercise like running and walking.
It can sometimes feel like staying at home doesn’t actually have that much of an impact, but this chart illustrates the profound effect that removing yourself from non-essential human contact and practicing good social distancing can have.
Wearing a Mask
As our understanding of the virus has evolved, we have come to realise that its' main mode of transmission is not actually surface to body, but directly from the air.
To contract the virus, you need to inhale approximately 1000 viral particles.
A cough produces 200,000,000 viral particles.
This is why wearing a mask is important. If you are healthy, you won't inhale particles from other people. If you're sick and you don't yet realise it, it will stop you from spreading the virus.
In some areas face masks are mandatory, but if you still have the option of choosing to wear one or not, it's best to err on the side of caution and do it. Wearing a mask could save someone's life.
Face masks can be bought at most stores and a quick google search will provide you with plenty of instructions on how to make them yourself.
Flattening The Curve
A tempting response to the virus, especially from people who aren't in the high-risk category, is to ignore all of the above advice, and to continue on with lives like normal. The issue with this, however, is while people who aren't at high-risk might not get dangerously sick, they can still pass the virus on to people who will.
If too many people do this, then the number of people who are sick will go past the limit of our healthcare system and many will suffer and die unnecessarily as we won’t have the capacity or technology to care for them.
This is why we need to #flattenthecurve so that people who need help can get it, and we get the best possible outcome from this pandemic. This animation summarizes it well:
If you have a respiratory condition that puts you at risk...
If you are in the high-risk category because of a respiratory condition, then there are some extra steps you can take to optimize your health and combat the virus.
The core advice is this: monitor your breathing.
Use an app like the ones below, or a notebook or something to keep track of the quality of your breathing, how many time you've used your inhaler/s and whether your breathing is improving or getting worse.
If your breathing deteriorates quickly over 2-3 days then please let us know so we can help you.
And if you feel like your shortness of breath is a symptom of COVID-19, then please call the 24/7 COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398
How Long Will It Last?
The bottom line is that we don't know how long COVID-19 will last as a pandemic, whether it will ever go away or what the outcome is going to be.
The current estimates for a vaccine are 12-18 months from the time of writing this (March 2020) but that could change.
It seems like the current government strategy, is to limit the spread within Australia until all cases disappear, and then lock down the country until a vaccine arrives. The length of time this will take depends on how well people adhere to the guidelines outlined above, but it's likely that the restrictions in place will last for another few months at least.
Only time will tell whether COVID-19 is every truly going to "end", but in the meantime, stay at home, stay healthy, and wash your hands.
Breathe Well – Live Well