What are the best ways to protect against coronavirus? Our guide outlines all the scientific methods to keep you as safe as possible. The outbreak of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 / Covid 19 has become a pandemic. The lung disease Covid-19 affects people worldwide, and the number of deaths is increasing.
Best ways to protect against coronavirus – SOS Tips:
In order to be able to protect one another as much as possible from infection with the novel lung disease from China called “Covid-19”, one should know how an infection occurs: the virus SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted from person to person. In the way of a droplet infection, if you are coughed on, for example. Or a lubrication infection when touching contaminated objects containing viruses, such as doorknobs or light switches, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap: at least for a period of 20 seconds, because this is the only way to reduce the number of germs on the hands to one thousandth or less — and is one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus. For heavily soiled hands, wash for more than 20 seconds. – To better assess how long 20 seconds is, you can sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
- According to the RKI (Robert Koch Institute), the additional use of a disinfectant is usually not required in a private environment. This only makes sense if, for example, a family member is ill or if people with reduced defences live in the household with an increased risk of infection. However, hand disinfection should occur when entering and leaving a hospital and is one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus.
- Avoid shaking hands. This is especially true in the case of illness.
- Keep distance from others. If someone is ill, the distance should be at least one to two meters.
- Mouth-nose protection does not reduce the risk of infection for healthy people (data from the Robert Koch Institute). The WHO points out that wearing a mask can also create a false sense of security and that good hand hygiene is often neglected.
Observe the rules of conduct when coughing and sneezing:
- Those who need to cough or sneell should keep at least one meter away from other people and turn away as one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus spreading.
- Use a disposable towel and use only once. Then dispose in a garbage bin with lid. Do not wash used cloth handkerchiefs below 60 degrees.
- If you have to sneeze or cough and don’t have a handkerchief, it’s best to sneeze and cough in your elbow bend and not into your hand.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and with soap after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing.
- Those who have an acute respiratory infection and have to stay in public can protect their fellow human beings by wearing a mouth-nose protection (e.g. a surgical mouthguard). The risk of infection from droplets caused by coughing or sneezing can thus be reduced for other people and is one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus spreading.
Best ways to protect against coronavirus in everyday life:
- Stay at home as often as possible. Restrict personal meetings with elderly or chronically ill people as one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus infecting them.
- Do without shaking hands and hugging.
- Regularly ventilate the lounges.
- Keep distance from others as crucially one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus. Especially to sick people with respiratory symptoms.
- Those who are ill themselves should stay at home. Contact the doctor only by phone.
- If someone is ill in the common household, a spatial separation should take place with other family members. Sufficient distance from each other is important.
- If possible, working at home is one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus. After consultation with your employer. Keep necessary professional meetings short and work together in well-ventilated rooms. The distance to other people should be one to two meters.
- Do not visit restaurants or canteens. Definitely avoid the rush hours. At best, eat alone in the office.
- Do not use public transport if possible. Better to walk, bike or drive your own car.
- Better postpone private and business trips by bus, train, ship or plane as one of the best ways to protect against coronavirus spreading to you.
- Avoid major events and places with large crowds, such as swimming pools, shopping malls, theatres, clubs.
- Only in urgent cases.
- Postpone larger private celebrations and restaurant visits as much as possible. If a visit cannot be avoided, consistently comply with the hygiene rules.
- Do not go shopping during normal rush hours. Best use of delivery services.
- Elderly or chronically ill people need help. They should therefore be supported. Among other things, by purchasing food and other things for daily use.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 / Covid 19: Course of the disease
Covid-19 begins with rather non-specific symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. complaints that can also occur with flu. However, the novel lung disease very rarely leads to head and limb pain. Similarly, patients rarely suffer from sneecsogyny. The cough in covid-19 disease is often dry, the fever does not start suddenly, as is typical of a flu, but it rises slowly and remains constant over a period of about ten days. In the case of flu, on the other hand, the condition of those affected deteriorates significantly within a few hours. That is not the case with Covid-19. In some patients, diarrhea occurs and often infected people suffer from loss of their sense of smell and taste over several days. Around 80 per cent of those suffering from Covid-19 develop only weak symptoms. This is particularly true for children and younger women. However, one in five infected people experience a severe, potentially fatal course. Older people and men are particularly affected.
If pneumonia develops, doctors speak of a severe course of the disease, because then acute and life-threatening lung failure can occur.
In the worst case, a Sars-CoV-2 infection causes blood poisoning (sepsis). Affected people then initially suffer from confusion, rapid and severe breathing, fear of death as well as a rapidly decreasing blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. Sufferers say they have never suddenly felt so sick before. This is a warning sign for the doctors. They must now take immediate further steps to save patients’ lives. The later viral sepsis is treated, the more often it is fatal. Recent research has shown that Covid-19 sufferers older than 69 are prone to pneumonia and sepsis.
According to the RKI, the proportion of mild gradients outside China is more than 80 percent. However, doctors from Hong Kong reported that some patients suffered serious and permanent lung damage, known as pulmonary fibrosis, despite what appeared to be a mild course of the disease. It is not yet known whether these are isolated cases or whether these long-term damage is more frequent.
What are the symptoms?
The new lung disease Covid-19 usually shows non-specific symptoms such as fever, dry cough and breathing problems. These symptoms can also occur with flu. Sniffing is rare. People are often infected with the virus, but they do not show symptoms. The new SARS-CoV-2 viruses, like flu viruses, multiply in the throat. In particular, the pathogen infects cells of the lower respiratory tract and can thus cause pneumonia. Some people infected with the pathogen only suffer from mild cold symptoms with frostbite and sore throat. Headaches or diarrhea are also possible. Fever does not always occur. – According to WHO data, around 80 percent of cases are mild. This is also observed by the Chinese health authority. However, about 14 percent of patients experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath. Covid-19 has a life-threatening effect at just under five percent. The lung disease then leads to respiratory arrest, septic shock or multi-organ failure. The WHO states that children are only affected in rare cases.
How is the coronavirus transmitted?
So far, it is known that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread by droplet infection, for example when coughing or speaking. It is also suspected that the pathogen is also detectable in the normal exhalation air. According to Chinese medical experts, there is also a suspicion that SARS-CoV-2 is spreading through the digestive system. Doctors discovered the pathogen in stool samples after some patients had diarrhea instead of the usual fever. A lubrication infection by the virus is also possible. It is also thought that SARS-CoV-2 can also be passed on by people who are themselves without symptoms.
How contagious is the coronavirus?
The virus is easily transmitted and is most likely passed on by people who do not suffer from symptoms themselves. The Robert Koch Institute says the pathogen is significantly more infectious than originally thought. According to current knowledge, the incubation period is two to 14 days. The daily China Daily reports an average incubation period of three days. In rare cases, there may also be a period of up to 24 days between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms. Experts, however, currently see no reason for extending the previously usual quarantine period of 14 days.
How dangerous is the coronavirus?
The new virus SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the same type of virus as Sars, but is a different variant, according to virus researcher Christian Drosten (Director of the Institute of Virologists at the Charité Berlin). The number of current diseases now far exceeds that of the Sars pandemic in 2002/2003. At that time, a total of 8,000 people were diagnosed with the infection, about one in ten of whom died. – The new SARS-CoV-2 virus has so far affected 218,815 people worldwide, with 8,810 dying from the viral consequences (as of March 19, 2020). Most deaths, according to the authorities, mainly affect elderly people with sometimes severe pre-existing conditions.
Particularly vulnerable groups:
The Robert Koch Institute indicates that although severe histories also occur in people without pre-existing conditions, the following groups of people are otherwise at increased risk of serious progression:
- Elderly. From about 50 to 60 years of age, the risk of a serious course of the disease increases steadily.
- People with certain pre-existing conditions:
- Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease.
- Lung disease, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis.
- Patients with chronic liver disease.
- Patients with diabetes mellitus.
- Patients with cancer.
- Patients with weakened immune systems.
Best ways to protect against coronavirus: what to avoid
In order to protect yourself from infection with the pathogen SARS-CoV-2, the same recommendations apply as for protection against a viral flu. It is important to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap. You should do this for at least 20 seconds. Experts do not think it makes sense to wear a mouthguard, as contaminated air can penetrate from the side. In addition, a mouthguard must be changed frequently, otherwise it can become a moist germ reservoir through its own saliva. Crowds should be avoided and kept at least one to two meters away from other people. Hands shaking and other touches should be avoided.
Is there an effective therapy against coronavirus?
Treatment of the disease is symptomatic. After the diagnosis has been made, bed rest and intravenous fluid administration are arranged in many cases. Cortisone preparations can also be given against inflammation and swelling. In severe cases, additional ventilation is often required. So far, there are no antiviral agents that work against the disease, nor is there any vaccine protection. Initial analyses suggest that the new virus has structural similarities to the previous Sars virus and also uses similar binding sites in the body for docking. Virologists have developed the first diagnostic testS in order to be able to quickly diagnose a disease with the virus.
What is the new coronavirus?
This new virus is officially named SARS-CoV-2. The severe lung disease with the now official name “Covid-19” first appeared in mid-December in the city of Wuhan (central China). It is one of several hundred different viruses belonging to the coronavirus family. Many of these viruses are often only responsible for mild colds. The cause of the disease is not yet known, except that the novel virus is believed to have come from an animal at a market in Wuhan. It was then transmitted to a human before the virus adapted to the new host and transmissions from person to person became possible.
Best ways to protect against coronavirus: understand the pathogen
Coronaviruses include sars and mers (often found in the Far East) in addition to the new SARS-CoV-2 virus. The new pathogen is a variant of the Sars virus and affects both the upper and lower airways. The virus can cause pneumonia. People of all ages are sick, with men slightly more likely to be affected than women. Patients who previously died as a result of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection were often already weakened by pre-existing conditions. – Many normal colds are also caused by coronaviruses. However, these are different types of viruses than SARS-CoV-2 and they usually only affect the upper respiratory tract.
Viruses in General – An Overview
Viruses are so small that they cannot be detected under a standard light microscope. They are usually only between 20 and 300 nanometers in size. Not all viruses that occur in our environment infect humans. Not every virus makes you sick either, because the human immune system reacts very quickly and usually successfully fights the pathogens. However, some relevant diseases are caused by viruses. They include harmless colds or lip herpes. In addition, most gastrointestinal infections in this country are caused by viruses. Serious infections that cause viruses include HIV/AIDS or hepatitis. Classic childhood diseases such as chickenpox, measles or rubella are also caused by viruses.
Viruses need a host cell to multiply. Once you get infected with a virus, it multiplys in the body. The virus docks to the so-called host cell and now has its required building blocks produced by the cell. More and more new viruses are emerging. As soon as the host cell dies, thousands of viruses are released, which are now looking for new host cells. As long as you are sick, these pathogens are eliminated and even some time later. In the environment, they can sometimes last for a very long time and remain contagious. But if viruses do not find new host cells, they die.
Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. So-called antiviral drugs are available, but they only help against individual types of virus. If the body’s immune system successfully fights a pathogen, one is in many cases immune to this particular virus and one cannot infect oneself with the pathogen a second time. – However, viruses are flexible. For example, the influenza virus is constantly changing. This is why a flu vaccine only protects for one year, because in the next flu wave the virus has changed its appearance again and the vaccine needs to be re-adjusted.
Covid-19 – What’s the difference with flu?
Every year, a more or less severe flu wave is coming home to us in Germany, from which some people die. However, measures such as the current Covid-19 pandemic have not yet had to be taken because of a flu. Seasonally, the number of new infections with influenza (influenza) increases again. According to RKI (as of March 17, 2020), more than 145,000 people in Germany have contracted influenza since last autumn. 247 died from it. In the 2017/18 flu season, 25,100 people died. According to the RKI, this is as many as in 30 years.
According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University on 19 March 2020, 12,327 people in Germany are infected with Sars-CoV-2. Twenty-eight people have died so far as a result. Worldwide, 218,815 people are known to have been infected and 8,810 deaths from Covid-19.
The following overview is intended to provide information on the similarities and differences between the two viral diseases:
Similarities between flu and Covid-19:
- Both diseases are caused by viruses. Influenza is caused by influenza viruses and Covid-19 by the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2.
- Covid-19 and flu are both respiratory diseases, the course of which can be very different. Some sufferers may be free of symptoms or have mild symptoms, others may suffer from very severe symptoms and die.
- The pathogens of both diseases are transmitted mainly by a droplet infection (during coughing or speaking), or by direct contact.
Difference between Sars-Cov-2 and flu viruses:
- The coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 is novel and probably only a few months ago jumped from an animal to humans. In the meantime, it can also be transmitted from person to person.
- The immune system is not prepared for this new virus. Experts estimate that 60 to 70 percent of people in Germany could become infected. Quarantine measures are designed to prevent the rapid spread of the Sars Cov-2 virus.
- The options for treatment and prevention vary widely: so far, there is no approved vaccine or disease therapy against Covid-19. Influenza, on the other hand, has protective vaccinations and approved antiviral drugs.
- Severe to life-threatening trajectories are more common in Covid-19 than in flu. According to the WHO, the course of the disease is so severe in 15 percent of the patients that additional oxygen supply is needed. Five percent of those infected require artificial ventilation. In addition, the death rate is probably higher than with the normal seasonal flu wave. It is not possible to estimate the actual mortality rate at this time, as it is not known how many mild cases are still undetected.
- Sars-CoV-2 appears to be more contagious than the influenza virus. According to the WHO, one infected person passes the virus on to two to two and a half more people. That is more contagion than influenza.
- The incubation period for influenza is shorter than for Covid-19. In the case of flu, the period between infection and initial symptoms usually lasts up to three days, with Covid-19 the range is between five and six days. Influenza can therefore spread faster than Covid-19.
- Those who have the flu can already infect others if they do not have symptoms themselves. According to the WHO, Covid-19 is known to have infections one to two days before symptoms appear. However, this is rare and does not play a significant role in the retransmission. As a result, the Sars CoV-2 virus could be more easily brought under control.
- Unlike flu, children rarely show clear symptoms when infected with Covid-19. According to previous knowledge, children are just as often infected with the virus as adults, but remain healthy. In addition, it has been observed that children are probably particularly infected in adults, but adults hardly in children. However, the role children play in spreading the virus is not clear at this time.
- Influenza is a high-risk group with severe histories, especially children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems. In the case of Covid-19, children and pregnant women do not belong to the risk groups, according to current knowledge.
Current Situation Worldwide
Worldwide, 218,815 people in 116 countries are infected with the novel coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. 8,810 people died (as of March 19, 2020). In Europe, the number of people infected is growing rapidly. Although there are further new infections in China, the number of people infected is decreasing significantly. Of the 80,000 infections counted in China, 67,000 have been cured so far. More than 3,200 people are known to have died.
To slow the spread of the virus, many countries are sealing off external borders. The aim of these and other measures is to limit public life as far as possible and thus to slow down the spread of the virus.
How widespread is the new pathogen?
The coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 continues to spread worldwide. Europe in particular is currently affected by the virus. There are now 218,815 infected people around the world. (as of March 19, 2020) According to the latest data, risk areas where continued human-to-human transmission can be suspected are Italy and Iran, as well as parts of China, South Korea and France. In addition, the Spanish capital Madrid and the Austrian state of Tyrol. If you wish to keep an eye on the data, there is an excellent set of pages (with separate data by age group, gender, preconditions, country etc) at the Worldometers coronavirus page.