All you need to know about COVID-19 Pandemic

All you need to know about COVID-19 Pandemic

What you should know about Covid-19 pandemic

How to properly wear a medical mask?

If you choose to wear a mask:

  1. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  2. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  3. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).
  4. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side).
  5. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
  6. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
  7. Do not touch the mask while you are wearing it for protection.
  8. After use, take off the mask with clean hands; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  9. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use. Do not reuse the mask.
  10. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

Be aware that there is a global shortage of medical masks (both surgical masks and N95 masks). These should be reserved as much as possible for health care workers.

Remember that masks are not a substitute for other, more effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 such as frequently washing your hands, covering your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from others. See basic protective measures against the new coronavirus for more information.

Follow the advice of your national health authority on the use of masks.

Do you know how to properly use a mask to protect yourself from covid-19? In this article all your queries are answered by experts from WHO.

Does WHO recommend wearing medical masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Currently, there is not enough evidence for or against the use of masks (medical or other) in healthy individuals in the wider community. However, WHO is actively studying the rapidly evolving science on masks and continuously updates its guidance.

Medical masks are recommended primarily in health care settings, but can be considered in other circumstances (see below). Medical masks should be combined with other key infection prevention and control measures such as hand hygiene and physical distancing.

Healthcare workers

Why? Medical masks and respirators such as N95, FFP2, or equivalent are recommended for and should be reserved for, healthcare workers while giving care to patients. Close contact with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and their surrounding environment are the main routes of transmission, which means healthcare workers are the most exposed.

People who are sick and exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19

Why? Anyone who is sick, with mild symptoms such as muscle aches, slight cough, sore throat, or fatigue, should isolate at home and use a medical mask according to WHO’s recommendation on home care of patients with suspected COVID-19. Coughing, sneezing, or talking can generate droplets that cause can spread the infection. These droplets can reach the face of others nearby and land on the surrounding environment. If an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks while wearing a medical mask, this can help to protect those nearby from infection. If a sick person needs to go to a health facility they should wear a medical mask.

Anyone taking care of a person at home who is sick with COVID-19

Why? Those caring for individuals who are sick with COVID-19 should wear a medical mask for protection. Again, close, frequent, and prolonged contact with someone with COVID-19 puts caretakers at high risk. National decision-makers may also choose to recommend medical mask use for certain individuals using a risk-based approach. This approach takes into consideration the purpose of the mask, the risk of exposure and vulnerability of the wearer, the setting, the feasibility of use, and the types of masks to be considered.

 

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries globally.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty in breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness.

However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill.  People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical attention immediately. If possible, it is recommended to call the health care provider or facility first, so the patient can be directed to the right clinic.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms and when should I seek medical care?

If you have minor symptoms, such as a slight cough or a mild fever, there is generally no need to seek medical care. Stay at home, self-isolate, and monitor your symptoms. Follow national guidance on self-isolation.

However, if you live in an area with malaria or dengue fever it is important that you do not ignore symptoms of fever.  Seek medical help.  When you attend the health facility wear a mask if possible, keep at least 1 metre distance from other people, and do not touch surfaces with your hands. If it is a child who is sick help the child stick to this advice.

Seek immediate medical care if you have difficulty breathing or pain/pressure in the chest. If possible, call your health care provider in advance, so he/she can direct you to the right health facility.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground.

People can catch COVID-19 if they breathe in these droplets from a person infected with the virus.  This is why it is important to stay at least 1 meter) away from others. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces around the person such as tables, doorknobs, and handrails.  People can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.  This is why it is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand rub.

WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways that COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.

Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

COVID-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing or has other symptoms such as fever or tiredness. Many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of the disease. It is possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

Some reports have indicated that people with no symptoms can transmit the virus. It is not yet known how often it happens. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the topic and will continue to share updated findings.

How can we protect others and ourselves if we don’t know who is infected?

Practicing hand and respiratory hygiene is important at ALL times and is the best way to protect others and yourself.

When possible maintain at least a 1 meter distance between yourself and others. This is especially important if you are standing by someone who is coughing or sneezing.

Since some infected persons may not yet be exhibiting symptoms or their symptoms may be mild, maintaining a physical distance with everyone is a good idea if you are in an area where COVID-19 is circulating.

What should I do if I have come in close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

If you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you may be infected.

Close contact means that you live with or have been in settings of less than 1 metre from those who have the disease. In these cases, it is best to stay at home.

However, if you live in an area with malaria or dengue fever it is important that you do not ignore symptoms of fever. Seek medical help. When you attend the health facility wear a mask if possible, keep at least 1 metre distant from other people, and do not touch surfaces with your hands. If it is a child who is sick help the child stick to this advice.

If you do not live in an area with malaria or dengue fever please do the following:

  • If you become ill, even with very mild symptoms you must self-isolate
  • Even if you don’t think you have been exposed to COVID-19 but develop symptoms, then self-isolate and monitor yourself
  • You are more likely to infect others in the early stages of the disease when you just have mild symptoms, therefore early self-isolation is very important.
  • If you do not have symptoms, but have been exposed to an infected person, self-quarantine for 14 days.

If you have definitely had COVID-19 (confirmed by a test) self-isolate for 14 days even after symptoms have disappeared as a precautionary measure – it is not yet known exactly how long people remain infectious after they have recovered. Follow national advice on self-isolation.

What is the difference between self-isolation, self-quarantine, and distancing?

Quarantine means restricting activities or separating people who are not ill themselves but may have been exposed to COVID-19. The goal is to prevent the spread of the disease at the time when people just develop symptoms.

Isolation means separating people who are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 and may be infectious to prevent the spread of the disease.

Physical distancing means being physically apart. WHO recommends keeping at least 1metre distance from others. This is a general measure that everyone should take even if they are well with no known exposure to COVID-19.

What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and many are experiencing outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.
  • Avoid going to crowded places. Why? Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COVID-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others. Why? Avoiding contact with others will protect them from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Why? Local and national authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

Is there a vaccine, drug, or treatment for COVID-19?

While some western, traditional, or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild COVID-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials of both western and traditional medicines. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19 and will continue to provide updated information as soon as research results become available.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to:

  • Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
  • Cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue. If a tissue is used, discard it immediately and wash your hands.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from others.

How long does it take after exposure to COVID-19 to develop symptoms?

The time between exposure to COVID-19 and the moment when symptoms start is commonly around five to six days but can range from 1 – 14 days.

What is the connection between COVID-19 and animals?

COVID-19 is spread through human-to-human transmission.

We already know a lot about other viruses in the coronavirus family and most of these types of viruses have an origin in animals. The COVID-19 virus (also called SARS-CoV-2) is a new virus in humans. The possible animal source of COVID-19 has not yet been confirmed but research is ongoing.

WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update, as new findings are available.

Several dogs and cats (domestic cats and a tiger) in contact with infected humans have tested positive for COVID-19. In addition, ferrets appear to be susceptible to the infection. In experimental conditions, both cats and ferrets were able to transmit the infection to other animals of the same species, but there is no evidence that these animals can transmit the disease to humans and play a role in spreading COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

It is still recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 and people who are at risk limit contact with companion and other animals. When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing after handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking, or sharing food.

More recommendations are available on the OIE website: https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/

WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

The most important thing to know about coronavirus on surfaces is that they can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants that will kill the virus. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper, and less than 24 hours on cardboard.

As, always clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the faeces of someone with the disease?

While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, to date, there have not been reports of faecal-oral transmission of COVID-19. Additionally, there is no evidence to date on the survival of the COVID-19 virus in water or sewage.

WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings on this topic.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the faeces of someone with the disease?

While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in faeces in some cases, to date, there have not been reports of faecal-oral transmission of COVID-19. Additionally, there is no evidence to date on the survival of the COVID-19 virus in water or sewage.

WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings on this topic.

How to wash fruits and vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. Wash them the same way you should do under any circumstance: before handling them, wash your hands with soap and water. Then, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with clean water, especially if you eat them raw.

How to grocery shop safely?

When grocery shopping, keep at least 1-metre distance from others and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose. If possible, sanitize the handles of shopping trolleys or baskets before shopping. Once home, wash your hands thoroughly and also after handling and storing your purchased products.

There is currently no confirmed case of COVID-19 transmitted through food or food packaging.

Evolution of COVID-19 PANDEMIC- the current risk assessment

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to evolve in the WHO African Region since the case was reported on 25 February 2020 in Algeria. Since then, all Member States have reported COVID-19, Lesotho reporting its first case on 13 May 2020.

While there are variations among countries, the overall numbers of reported cases and deaths have been increasing exponentially in recent weeks, and over half of the in the region are experiencing community transmission.

There are also increasing incidents of crossborder transmission of COVID-19 between countries in the continent, mainly through long-distance truck drivers illicit transboundary movement. Notably, in most countries, the disease is still localized to large urban centers most rural communities relatively unaffected. See full WHO Situation Report

On 11 March 2020, the WHO Director-General characterized the COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Chinese authorities identified a new type of coronavirus (novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2) from a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan city, Hubei Province, China, on 7 January 2020. SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

According to the information provided, the initial cases described in Wuhan were linked to the Hunan seafood market in Wuhan (the market was closed on 1 January 2020).

The possible source of the outbreak is still under investigation by the Chinese authorities and it may have from an animal species, as has been the case for other coronaviruses. The exact extent of the outbreak unknown.

On 30 January 2020, the WHO Director-General declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of concern (PHEIC), with temporary recommendations issued for all countries. On 28 February 2020, raised the risk assessment for the COVID-19 outbreak internationally from “high” to “very high”.

Role of WHO in COVID-19 pandemic

The WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) is working closely with its 47 Member States, as well as partners, in order to implement several outbreak preparedness and response interventions.

WHO Recommendations for international traffic

WHO continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

In general, evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions. Furthermore, restrictions may interrupt needed aid and technical support, may disrupt businesses, and may have negative social and economic effects on the affected countries.

However, in certain circumstances, measures that restrict the movement of people may prove temporarily useful, such as in settings with few international connections and limited response capacities.

Travel measures that significantly interfere with international traffic may only be justified at the beginning of an outbreak, as they may allow countries to gain time, even if only a few days, to rapidly implement effective preparedness measures.

Such restrictions must be based on a careful risk assessment, be proportionate to the public health risk, be short in duration, and be reconsidered regularly as the situation evolves.

Travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation of cases but may have a significant economic and social impact. Since WHO declaration of a public health emergency of international concern in relation to COVID-19, and as of 27 February, 38 countries have reported to WHO additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic in relation to travel to and from China or other countries, ranging from denial of entry of passengers, visa restrictions or quarantine for returning travelers.

Several countries that denied entry of travelers or who have suspended the flights to and from China or other affected countries are now reporting cases of COVID-19.

Temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop the international spread, since infected individuals may be in the incubation period, may not express apparent symptoms early on in the course of the disease, or may dissimulate fever through the use of antipyretics; in addition, such measures require substantial investments for what may bear little benefits.

It is more effective to provide prevention recommendation messages to travelers and to collect health declarations at arrival, with travelers’ contact details, to allow for a proper risk assessment and a possible contact tracing of incoming travelers.

Recommendations for international travelers

It is prudent for travelers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travelers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.

General recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and keeping a distance of at least one metre from persons showing symptoms remain particularly important for all travellers. These include:

  • Perform hand hygiene frequently, particularly after contact with respiratory secretions. Hand hygiene includes either cleaning hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub. Alcohol-based hand rubs are preferred if hands are not visibly soiled; wash hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled;
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing and disposing immediately of the tissue and performing hand hygiene;
  • Refrain from touching mouth and nose;
  • A medical mask is not required if exhibiting no symptoms, as there is no evidence that wearing a mask – of any type – protects non-sick persons. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn. If masks are to be worn, it is critical to follow best practices on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal (see Advice on the use of masks)

As for any travel, travelers are also advised to follow proper food hygiene practices, including the five keys for food safety, as well as recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission of emerging pathogens from animals to humans in live markets.

Travelers returning from affected areas should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and follow national protocols of receiving countries. Some countries may require returning travelers to enter quarantine. If symptoms occur, such as fever, or cough, or difficulty breathing, travelers are advised to contact local health care providers, preferably by phone, and inform them of their symptoms and their travel history. For travelers identified at points of entry, it is recommended to follow WHO advice for the management of travelers at points of entry. Guidance on the treatment of sick passengers on board of airplanes is available on ICAO and IATA websites. Key considerations for the planning of large mass gathering events are also available on WHO’s website. Operational considerations for managing COVID-19 cases on board of ships has also been published.

For countries which decide to repatriate nationals from affected areas, they should consider the following to avoid further spread of COVID-19: exit screening shortly before flight; risk communication to travelers and crew; infection control supplies for the voyage; crew preparedness for possibility of a sick passenger in flight; entry screening on arrival and close follow-up for 14 days after arrival. (WHO recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission of emerging pathogens from animals to humans in live animal markets)

WHO General recommendations to all countries

Countries should intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia and monitor carefully the evolution of COVID-19 outbreaks, reinforcing epidemiological surveillance.

Countries should continue to enhance awareness through effective risk communication concerning COVID-19 to the general public, health professionals, and policymakers, and to avoid actions that promote stigma or discrimination. Countries should share with WHO all relevant information needed to assess and manage COVID-19 in a timely manner, as required by the International Health Regulations (2005).

Countries are reminded of the purpose of the International Health Regulations to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. Countries implementing additional health measures that significantly interfere with international traffic are required to provide to WHO, within 48 hours of implementation, the public health rationale, and relevant scientific information for the measures implemented.

WHO shall share this information with other States Parties. Significant interference generally means refusal of entry or departure of international travelers, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods, and the like, or their delay, for more than 24 hours.

WHO continues to engage with its Member States, as well as with international organizations and industries, to enable implementation of travel-related health measures that are commensurate with the public health risks, are effective, and are implemented in ways which avoid unnecessary restrictions of international traffic during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

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