COVID-19 How to Protect and Assess Yourself

In the current Covid-19 Pandemic we get asked a lot of questions about the best ways on how to protect and assess yourself. We've gathered some great recommendations that we've found to be very useful and came up with a few of our own suggestions.

Most of the following recommendations come from from a video conference given by Dr. Dave Price, an ER physician. Watch this video by Dr. Dave Price, Protecting Your Family ER doctor at Cornell University.

Covid-19 A Brief Summary

What is COVID-19?

A virus from the common cold family, the coronavirus has never been seen by the human body before, hence the virulence. The virus appears to have come from an animal.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are a fever, cough, and sore throat. The virus then travels throughout the body and goes mostly to the lungs although there can also be cardiac involvement. Patients commonly present with a cough or are just not feeling good, with a cough and mild headache. Most people just don’t feel good when they suffer from the virus. The infection can last anywhere from five to fourteen days. Those with a mild case of the disease usually feel better around the fifth day. In more severe cases, those that are more affected will become short of breath between the third and the fifth day then feel better around the seventh day.

How do we get the disease?

Coronavirus is contracted almost exclusively from moving your hands to your face. You have to have long and sustained contact with someone who has the disease. The vast majority will have a fever and aches or will be someone that is going to get the disease in the next one or two days. This virus is almost entirely transferred from your hands to your face, into the eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep your hands away from your face and you're mostly good.  Super clean hands, never touching the face. Boom.

There is some suggestion you can get the virus from aerosolization, in other words because it’s airborne. However, for this to occur you need long sustained and unprotected contact for at least fifteen to thirty minutes, in a closed room with no mask. Most people get it from touching someone with the disease or someone who is about the get the disease. Covid-19 is in your community right now. I’m not attempting to scare you, but simply empower you to take the necessary steps to protect your hand to face spread.

Follow 4 Rules to Protect Yourself

1. Become a 'hand washing fanatic'

Know where your hands are and keep them cleaned and sanitised at all times. Walk around with Purell or hand wipes. Leave your door, Purell. Open the door and then Purell. If you keep your hands clean, you dramatically reduce the risk of infection and if you combine washing your hands with not touching your face, you will NOT get this. Covid-19 is mostly contracted from sustained contact with someone who has it. However, because of the risk of slight exposure on objects, make sure that you always keep your hands clean.

2. Psychologically work at the connection between your hands and face

We touch our face thousands of times a day without thinking, whether we’re scratching, picking, rubbing, or pondering. Start to monitor yourself doing this, gamify not touching your face or wear a mask indoors to train yourself in this new behaviour.

3. You don't need a N95 medical mask

When you leave the house, wear a mask or something wrapped around your mouth and nose, to stop you touching your face. Any covering of your face is good. The mask doesn't prevent the disease but simply trains you not to touch your face. So, when you leave your house, add a mask. This will prevent transmission 99% of the time. Clean hands and not touching your face is the key. The general community has zero need for a N95 mask. If you’re in a room with a Covid-19 patient who has a risk of aerosolization, you need a N95 mask. If you’re going to the grocery store and touch the cart, just make sure that you clean the handle.

4. Distance yourself from others

Keep around three to six feet away from other people. Shrink your social circle for now. Find your small group and don't break from it. Do all other socialising digitally. We’ll need to physically distance for the next three to six months, maybe longer if we see another little spike. Become used to keeping this distance and don’t allow yourself to slip with this. You don’t need to be afraid of your neighbour. The better you are at doing this, the less likely you'll catch or transmit the infection.

And that’s it. Just four very simple rules.

The only way you will get this disease is if your hands are contaminated, you touch your face, and you stand too close to a contaminated person. You don’t need to be afraid if you go out to the grocery store. The person three to six feet away from you is not your enemy.

What Should You Do If You Have a Cold?

Behave as if you have coronavirus for two days and see what direction this takes. If in a couple of days it feels like a regular cold like all your others you’ve ever had, go back to normal life. You can have Covid-19 and stay in your house, protected and perfectly safe. If someone is immune compromised in the house, such as a very elderly individual, isolate them completely from the person that’s sick or that person needs to leave the house. The same applies if someone is known to be immune compromised after undergoing chemotherapy, for example. Touching a person or touching a contaminated surface then touching your face is what will transmit the disease.

What Should You Do If You Get the Disease?

This disease is primarily spread through home and family transmission, such as from mother to daughter, from brother to sister. If you develop a fever or other symptom, isolate yourself in the house in a separate room, with a separate bathroom if at all possible.

If the person has to come out of the room, have that sick person wear a mask and wash their hands with sanitizer before leaving the room and entering the rest of the house. The sick person should touch as little as possible, clean after themselves, and then head back to their self-isolation. Don’t have sustained contact with this person and don’t do things like repeatedly taking their temperature. However, don’t be afraid to stay at home.

The healthy person in the house should not be touching the sick person or be around the sick person whenever they can avoid it. The sick person should get through the illness within seven days but remain vigilant as their recovery relates to washing hands, wearing masks and so on for seven to ten days. Once the sick person is feeling well, they can have more contact with others. However, continue cleaning your hands and put on a mask.

If You’re Sick, When Do You Need to Go to the Hospital?

You only really need to go to the hospital if you’re short of breath. That’s the clearest indication and a steadfast rule. Don’t go to the hospital if you have a fever, body aches, a cough, or you simply think you might have Covid-19. A lot of people presenting to hospitals are being sent home to wait out the four to five days of the disease. Of all the people who get Covid-19, only 10% become short of breath and need to go to hospital. Of those, only about 10% of people turning up at the hospital that have symptoms will actually be admitted to be monitored. About 1% of those will be put on a ventilator. The overwhelming majority of people come off the ventilator seven to ten days later. Going to the hospital is not a death sentence.

Telemedicine is the best way to avoid overloading the medical services. Call in with your symptoms and heed the advice given by your health authorities. In Canada, call 811 and follow their directions. However, if you’re short of breath, head to the hospital.

Do I Need to Get Tested?

No. Let people who really need it, get tested. As testing ramps up more people will have access. If you have symptoms like the flu with the features mentioned, you probably have Covid-19. If your community is having an outbreak of the disease then you may need to be tested.

Are Kids Getting Infected with Covid-19?

There have been almost no cases of Covid-19 disease in kids between zero and fourteen years old. A few newborns are getting it, which is thought to be due to contact. Kids are not getting critically ill or dying. We’re still waiting to understand whether kids are vectors and assume for now that they are. At the moment, kids aren’t dying and kids aren’t getting sick.

Transmission

The absolute vast majority of transmissions are from droplets. When a droplet leaves an infected person, it lands and is quickly picked up by an unsuspecting person, transferring it from hands to face. Very, very little transmission occurs through the air. You would have to be very close to a person spitting or coughing and have a droplet transferred to your face. This occurs in a hospital when the patient is suctioned or a similar aerosolized procedure is done. This is where a N95 mask is needed. Most nurses use an ordinary surgery mask when in hospitals attending to Covid-19 patients.

It takes approximately two days to be symptomatic. You are infective in those two days, keep a list if you can of all the people you interact with so that you’re able to inform people if you’re in contact with someone in the two days prior to you becoming symptomatic.

Health care providers that are on the front line taking care of infected patients in a closed room and doing nasal swabs without protection are getting very sick. With the proper protection nobody is getting sick, even in working in a Covid-19 hospital ward.

Is it really safe to go on a run or a walk if you adhere to the spacing directions?

Yes, it is. Take sterilising liquid with you and wipe down anything you touch. Keep your distances. Just don't get sloppy and don't assume that other people have your diligence. Wear a mask so that you continue to train yourself not to touch your face and to communicate to other people that you're taking it seriously. Wipe everything down before you touch it and don’t touch your face. A bandana is okay if you don’t have a mask. It’s not preventing you from getting the disease, but just to prevent you from touching your face.

What if you don't have a sterilising liquid?

Coronavirus is not robust. It dies immediately upon disinfection. Use your elbows or other body parts to open and close things, then wash with soap as soon as you can.

Do I need to wipe down groceries when bringing them into the house?

It’s a reasonable idea to have the delivery person leave the goods outside your door, pick it up with gloves then wipe it down. That’s certainly reasonable but the most important part is, as stated, to wash your hands, don't touch your face. Don’t pick up the package with your bare hands. Clean your hands immediately. If picking up coffee from a Starbucks drive-through, Purell your hands or disinfect your hands after taking the cup.

It is fallacy that this only affects older people?

Yes, this is affecting everyone above approximately fourteen years old. Everybody is getting this disease even without preconditions. Older people often do worse, while men are more often infected than females. The younger you are, the less likely it will happen. The older you are, the more likely you are to get the disease.

Is it true that Ibuprofen should be avoided when feeling sick?

In practice, 90% of people will get a fever and a cough. Those who become sicker get short of breath. Those who can’t walk to the bathroom need a ventilator. They usually settle out after a day and after seven days they get off the ventilators. There’s good enough data coming out of Germany now that ibuprofen should not be used since it causes more inflammation. If you have a fever use an alternative like Tylenol. Take glutathione if you use Tylenol.

Immunity

The people who get the disease are shedding the virus one or two days before they get the disease. The stories of people getting sick again are about people that haven't fully recovered. If you've had it, and are through it, you're immune. This virus is now in circulation and as it mutates over the next few years, it will become milder and milder. Five years from now it will be just a cold.

Finally, a study in China has determined that microbiome health is a more significant factor than age when it comes to coronavirus deaths.

9 thoughts on “COVID-19 How to Protect and Assess Yourself”

  1. Dr. Hoffman, just wanted to thank you for such an intelligent, well-written article on Coronavirus.

    Very helpful information. I’m going to pass this on to members of my family and friends.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  2. It’s so reassuring to hear this medical advice especially when there’s so much misinformation around us right now.
    I will share this post and please continue to inform us of any new developments. Life as we knew it has changed and we need to make the necessary adjustments physically and mentally and not create fear but some calm. Thanks so much for being that reassuring voice amongst the chaos.
    Be well!

    Reply

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