By now you’ve heard that two best ways to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, are hand washing and social distancing, but what are the symptoms and what should you do once you start exhibiting symptoms?
According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms are fever, head aches, fatigue and a dry cough. Some people may also experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea.
Current estimates of the incubation period – the amount of time between infection and the onset of symptoms – range from one to 14 days. Most infected people show symptoms within five to six days
Data shows the disease is mild in 82 per cent of patients, severe in 15 per cent and critical in three per cent – the vast majority of which are elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
However, infected patients can also be asymptomatic, not displaying symptoms despite having the virus in their system.
According to data collected by the WHO, the overall mortality rate is about two per cent. However, it varies greatly by age. The mortality rate for those who contract the virus under the age of 40 is 0.2 per cent. By comparison the mortality rate for individuals who contract the virus between the age of 40 and 49 is 0.4 per cent; it’s 1.3 per cent for individuals age 50-59; 3.6 per cent for individuals age 60-69; eight per cent for people age 70-79; and 13.8 per cent for individuals 80 and over who contract the virus.'
So what should you do if you begin to show symptoms? First of all, don’t panic. We are still in the flu season and the symptoms are easily confused and mis- diagnosed by laymen.
Both influenza and COVID-19 can cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Both can either be mild or severe, but rarely fatal and both can result in pneumonia.
Both can also be prevented by frequent and thorough hand washing, coughing into your elbow, staying home when sick and limiting contact with infected people.
As stated earlier, 80 per cent of the people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms.
According to Ottawa Public Health, if you have MILD symptoms, where you are NOT short of breath and can manage symptoms reasonably at home, do NOT call Ottawa Public Health and do NOT rush off to the nearest hospital or urgent care clinic.
If the symptoms worsen to the point where there is a spike in body temperature and shortness of breath do NOT call Ottawa Public Health, instead do one of the following: either visit the OPH COVID-19 assessment centre at Brewer Park, or call your family doctor (if avail-able); if neither is possible go to the hospital emergency department and pay attention to the special signage.
If you or a family member are exper-iencing severe symptoms, including frequent shortage of breath, frequent shortage of breath and cannot manage your symptoms at home, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If a family member is exhibiting any symptoms, they should be isolated in a separate room with limited contact with other family members. Those same family members should self-quarantine for 14 days.
If a family member is exhibiting symp-toms in a household where a senior is also living, the senior family member should be isolated in a separate room as well and closely monitoredPublic health officials in several coun-tries have noted that anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can be a factor in aggravating the infection. If a fever is present it is better to take acetaminophen such as Tylenol. because it will reduce the fever without counter-attacking the inflammation.
One of the key ways to prevent trans-mission of the virus is social distancing. The recommended distance one should keep from other individuals in public is six feet. For the average person that’s an arm’s length and a half.
The need to maintain social distancing is why schools and other public gathering places have been shut down. It is also why many countries have imposed a general lockdown on their population.
Besides being a safeguard against transmission, social distancing is an important tool to limit the potential strain of the COVID-19 outbreak on the health care system also referred to as flattening the curve.
Without the practice of social distancing more people would be infected all at once, creating a spike in visits to urgent care clinics and hospital emergency rooms which would be overwhelmed, creating a crisis situation. By flattening the curve, the number of people who potentially contract the virus would be stretched out over a longer period of time, making it easier for the health care system to handle the epidemic.
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