WHO Declares the Coronavirus Outbreak a Global Pandemic
It was somewhat anticlimactic. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Wednesday that the coronavirus is officially a pandemic.
Most people already knew that. When a viral disease enters at least 114 countries, infects some 120,000 people and kills more than 4,300, yeah, that's a pandemic.
This is the first time WHO has labeled an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 swine flu of 2009.
Eight countries, including the U.S., have reported 1,000 or more cases. Over the past two weeks, cases outside of China have increased 13-fold.
The bell has rung 'loud and clear'
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is director-general of WHO. He said, "We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear."
He added that while the number of cases and deaths will continue to climb, hope remains that it can be contained.
One positive is that new cases in China and South Korea have been declining. That's why Tedros adds this:
"We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough. All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."
Coronavirus symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue and sputum/phlegm production.
Some people also get shortness of breath, sore throat and headache.
The virus causes mild illness for most, but can make others very ill. And in some cases, it can also be fatal.
Most at risk are older people and those with pre-existing conditions. Such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes.
Older folks are at risk
Infectious disease experts identify "older adults" as those 60 and older. The virus is more dangerous for this group because immune systems weaken with age.
In China, the overall fatality rate has been 2.3 percent. But in those 80 and older, it has risen to 15 percent.
Dr. Carla Perissinotto is an associate professor in the Geriatrics Division of the University of California-San Francisco's Department of Medicine.
She suggests canceling all non-essential doctor's appointments. Make sure you carry emergency contact information with you. Avoid places where crowds gather. Exercise and eat healthy.
A long-living virus
One of the reasons the coronavirus might be spreading so rapidly is due to its ability to live in the air and on surfaces for long periods of time.
Recent government testing showed it can live in the air for several hours. And on certain surfaces for as long as two to three days.
Researchers found that the virus could be detected for up to four hours on a copper surface and 24 hours on cardboard. As well as up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Testing was done by scientists from the National Institutes of Health, Princeton University and UCLA.
As we've mentioned previously, there are ways we can increase our chances of avoiding this virus. They include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes – with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are, or who appear to be, ill.
Here's what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends in the workplace.
- Don't shake hands. Use non-contact methods of greeting.
- Clean your hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email.
- Create habits and reminders to avoid touching your face, and to cover coughs and sneezes.
- Regularly disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks and handrails.
- Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible. Or hold them in large, well-ventilated spaces. Consider postponing other large gatherings.
- Increase ventilation by opening windows and/or adjusting air conditioning.
- Limit food sharing.
- Assess the risk of business travel.
- Stay home if you or a family member is sick.
What if you get sick?
If you believe you might have the coronavirus, don't just rush to the emergency room.
Call your doctor right away and describe your symptoms. Your doctor will tell you whether you should go to his or her office, or to a hospital.
If you're unable to reach your doctor, call a local coronavirus hotline. They should be able to advise you.
With mild symptoms, you should be able to stay home. With more severe symptoms, a hospitalization may be required.
If you're remaining at home, stay there. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and throw it in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Use a face mask when necessary.
Shortages Remind Folks To Be Prepared
As a reaction to the global pandemic, many people across America are stocking up on important household supplies, readying themselves to stay put if the time comes where they need to stay indoors.
Items such as toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer and face masks. Unfortunately, this is causing shortages.
Price gouging is also occurring – both online and at brick-and-mortar stores. And that's keeping people who need important supplies from getting them.
That is not something we do here at 4Patriots. We want as many folks as possible to know the peace of mind that comes with being prepared.
Take the steps to prepare yourself and your family and get peace of mind as the threat of the coronavirus continues to spread.