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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Meaning, Symptoms and Prevention

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11.

With nearly 170,000 infected and more than 7,500 deaths globally, this new virus is spreading rapidly across international borders. To date, 424 Canadians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, although this number will continue to climb, and confirmed cases have been found in each province. (None, as of this writing, had been found in the territories.) Federal officials have advised Canadians to refrain from international travel and take precautions like practicing social distancing.

Among the panic associated with this viral outbreak, rumours and a lack of proper information is worsening the situation. It’s become important to inform people about COVID-19 so they can protect themselves from contracting it while refraining from creating and spreading fake news.

Here’s a blog from our fitness experts to help you learn about coronavirus and how to stay healthy during the outbreak.

How to Protect Yourself from Contracting the New Coronavirus

The new coronavirus, or COVID-19, originated in a food market in Wuhan, China, in December and spread globally to infect more than 189,000 worldwide as of this writing. Amidst new research and information coming out all the time, the world is filled with rumours. That’s why we hope this post will help you know the facts on the new coronavirus and how you can protect yourself during this outbreak.

What Is the Novel Coronavirus?

COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses named coronaviruses (CoV).  These cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to acute diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). They are zoonotic, which means they’re transmitted between animals and people. The coronaviruses that infect animals evolve and become a new human coronavirus.

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus discovered in 2019. First detected in Wuhan, China, it has not been previously identified. This novel coronavirus can affect your lungs and airways. Once developed in people, coronavirus can spread through respiratory droplets. In other words, the wet stuff transferred through the air when you sneeze or cough.

What Are the Symptoms?

The novel coronavirus is surprising doctors every day as they learn new things about it with each case. Researchers are still investigating the full list of symptoms. So far, research shows that a person infected with COVID-19 will start showing symptoms after carrying the virus for two days up to two weeks. Some common signs of infection are:

  • A low-grade fever that gradually increases in temperature.
  • Coughing that gets more severe over time.
  • Shortness of breath or other breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, the symptoms include:

  • Pneumonia.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Acute respiratory syndrome.

If the infected person doesn’t receive medical care in the initial stages, the infection can lead to death.


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How to Avoid Contracting COVID-19

“With cases rapidly increasing in Canada, particularly in British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta, our window to flatten the curve of the epidemic is narrow …… I am also asking that you avoid large public gatherings and increase your personal physical space from others. Talk to your employer about contingencies or working from home if this becomes necessary,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer in a press conference.

Her statement is an indication that COVID-19 is a serious health threat. However, it can be prevented with awareness and precautions.

Here are a few ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the virus.

  • Practice Social Distancing

As mentioned, COVID-19 can spread through the respiratory droplets of an infected person when they cough or sneeze. The risk is higher in a public place as you may unknowingly come into contact with items touched by an infected person after coughing or sneezing. These include doorknobs, seats and computers. So, unless it’s urgent, avoid public gatherings and put distance between yourself and others. Instead of going to the office, consider working from home. Now that gyms have shut down, hire a personal trainer to help you work out at home. And trust Netflix or Tubi for entertainment since movie theatres have been shuttered.

  • Clean Your Hands Often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This should be practiced especially if you’ve been to a public place or have used your hands to cover your face while coughing or sneezing. If you’re travelling somewhere where soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) to help kill any trace of virus on your hands.

  • Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose and Mouth

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands as your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. If you’ve touched a contaminated object, your hands can transfer them into your body through eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Be Cautious If You’re Sick

Apart from protecting yourself from contracting coronavirus, you should also be cautious if you’re already sick. For example, wear a face mask when around other people and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Be sure to stay home if you’re sick and get medical care. Also, throw away used tissues immediately and clean and disinfect surfaces frequently.

What Is the Treatment for COVID-19?

Unfortunately, there is to date no vaccine or treatment to cure or prevent infection of the novel coronavirus. Those tested positive for coronavirus should immediately receive medical care to relieve their symptoms.

During this outbreak, the aim of every country, its government and citizens should be to raise awareness, stay safe and trust only verified sources to mitigate damage caused by the virus. The key to preventing the spread of coronavirus is to avoid large crowds, work from home and avoid close contact with others. Additionally, follow hygienic practices, limit travel (especially international) and self-isolate for 14 days upon returning from any trip abroad. Although there’s no need to panic, preparedness will help. Get in touch with health care professionals and fitness experts to learn more about staying healthy during the virus outbreak.