Published:  12:01 AM, 04 March 2020

The facts, and how to protect yourself

The facts, and how to protect yourself

Fraser Hamilton

Keep yourself informed and protected against the virus. Here's what you really need to know about the viral outbreak that's making headlines across the globe.

With news outlets worldwide churning out reports about COVID-19 (a.k.a. coronavirus), the illness that started in Wuhan, China, you might feel overwhelmed by the many fear-based headlines. We've put together the cold, hard facts about the disease, along with your best preventative measures.

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a viral infection that originated from animals, specifically seafood sold in the Wuhan city fish market. There are now more than 80,000 cases of the virus, with 95 percent of them occurring within China. The global death toll from the virus has surpassed 3,000, making the disease have a 2 percent mortality rate.

The virus can be spread through human-to-human contact, and it causes pneumonia within those infected. Symptoms include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. According to the World Health Organization, one out of six people who get infected with COVID-19 become seriously ill and experience the worst of the symptoms, primarily respiratory difficulties.

Due to the disease being viral, antibiotics won't be much help. Your recovery depends on the strength of your immune system, as most of those who've died from COVID-19 were already in poor health before getting infected.

Do you have coronavirus?

Here's some good news. You are most likely not infected with coronavirus if you have not travelled through China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea recently, as these countries are dealing with the largest outbreaks.

If you're experiencing common COVID-19 symptoms, you're more likely to have a regular flu. Get in touch with your health care practitioner and follow their advice if you're worried.

How can you protect yourself?

Your best strategy for preventing COVID-19 is to avoid exposure to it. You should also focus on bolstering your immunity, as recovery from COVID-19 depends on the strength of your immune system. Here are some of the best preventative measures to keep yourself healthy and strong.

*    Wash your hands routinely with soap and warm water. Lather all over hands, including the back, between fingers, and under nails for at least 20 seconds. Sing "Happy Birthday"!

*    Keep a bottle of natural hand sanitizer handy throughout the day.

*    Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.

*    Consider using a facemask if you'll be in areas with crowds of people, especially airports, buses, or train stations.

*   Keep your immune system strong by taking vitamins C and D supplements, as well as probiotics for a healthy gut and echinacea for additional immune support.

*    Eat antimicrobial foods like garlic, yogurt, and turmeric, as well as vitamin C-rich snacks like citrus, bell peppers, leafy greens, and berries.

*    A little exercise goes a long way. Physical fitness has been shown to have fantastic effects when it comes to strengthening your immune system and lowering the severity of colds and flu. Try squeezing in a few extra jumping jacks while watching TV tonight.

*    Make sure you're getting at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Our biggest piece of advice? Don't panic. The World Health Organization has stated that for people living outside of China, especially the Hubei Province, your risk of being infected is currently low .

Follow smart preventative measures, keep your immune system healthy, and reconsider travel to countries like China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Go ahead and stay informed about COVID-19-just make sure you're sticking with reliable resources. Stay healthy out there!

The writer is an editor and content coordinator at Alive magazine

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