Table of Contents
- What is COVD19?
- How is Coronavirus spread?
- What is the incubation Period of the Coronavirus
- What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?
- Are pregnant women more susceptible to Coronavirus?
- What about my unborn child?
- How does Coronavirus affect Young Children?
- What about School and Day Care?
- How do I protect my family from Coronavirus?
- Do I need to stockpile supplies?
- Keep Up to Date
- Seeking Medical Attention
As the Corona Virus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the world we thought it would be timely to provide updated information. I’m sure many of you have concerns for about the virus and the impact on your families. COVID-19 appears to be spreading at a rate of knots and is causing some panic within the community. We encourage everyone to be calm but prepared! Literally everyone in the whole world is going through this. Here we answer the most commonly asked questions about the Coronavirus.
The situation is evolving rapidly and changing minute by minute. The Government and Health Authorities continue to release new updates on a daily basis. Please note important resources and contact numbers are listed at the end of this article.
What is COVD19?
COVID-19 is a new strain of Coronavirus (a large strain of viruses) that has not previously been detected in humans. It started in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China and continues to spread rapidly throughout the world. Australia has recently taken increased protective measures to stop the virus spreading throughout our community.
How is Coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 is spread via close contact with a person through contaminated droplets. These contaminated droplets are caused by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. Most COVID-19 cases appear to be spread from people who have symptoms. A small number of people may have been infectious before their symptoms developed.
What is the incubation Period of the Coronavirus
The average incubation period for COVID-19 is around 2-14 days. Typically symptoms are appearing 5-6 days after exposure. So if you have been in contact with a confirmed case, you are asked to self-isolate for 14 days to make sure no symptoms appear.
What are the Symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus symptoms can range from common cold-like symptoms to being on par with severe illnesses such as SARS (Severe Acute respiratory Syndrome). It is possible to experience any of the following:
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
If you present with any of the above symptoms and you have returned from overseas travel in the last 14 days, then you will be eligible to be tested to see if you have contracted COVID-19. If you have been in contact with someone who has had the virus then you would also be eligible. Due to the sheer number of people wanting to be tested, only those who fit the above criteria at the moment can be tested. This helps to conserve resources for where they are best directed. After testing, you must remain isolated at home until you receive the results of the test and further medical advice.
According to WHO (the World Health Organisation) about 1 out of every 6 patients who contract the COVID-19 virus “becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention”.
Are pregnant women more susceptible to Coronavirus?
Pregnant women are naturally immune-suppressed because your baby is only made up of 50% of your DNA. Pregnant women can be a little more vulnerable to illness, at this stage pregnant women are being told to be more careful as a precautionary measure. During pregnancy, women “experience immunologic and physiologic changes which make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19” (source Centers for Disease Control and Infection).
The best way to avoid contamination is to stay home more than normal, wash your hands often and stop sick people from visiting your home. If you’re pregnant and become unwell:
1) self isolate
2) use good hygiene – especially hand hygiene. Washing your hands is the best defence against illness.
What about my unborn child?
There’s no evidence yet that COVID-19 crosses over the placenta. It is important to note that as this is an unprecedented virus, there is not much research around to refute or support adverse outcomes in pregnant women with COVID-19.
How does Coronavirus affect Young Children?
The World Health Organisation reports that the COVID-19 virus is generally mild for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness so it is normal for people to be concerned about their family. Children with underlying health conditions would be more at risk than other children.
If you have a young baby or child then it’s strongly recommended to continue to breastfeed. Breast milk provides the best source of nutrition and protection against many illnesses. Breastfeeding gives your baby antibodies to help protect against all the other viruses in the environment. Therefore, it is hoped that the antibodies will help against Coronavirus as well. There is no evidence so far in regards to the virus being carried through breast milk. It is believed that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the potential risks of transmission via breast milk. Read more about the benefits of breastfeeding here.
A mother confirmed with COVID-19 or symptomatic, must take the greatest possible protection to avoid spreading the virus to her infant. This includes washing hands before touching and wearing a face mask if possible during breastfeeding. The same applies for expressing breast milk. If possible, ask someone who is well to give the expressed milk to the baby.
What about School and Day Care?
Why are schools and day care still open? The Government has assured us that schools will remain open as it might be safer. If schools close, it might be highly unlikely that older children will stay home and instead will venture out into the wider community where they are more likely to come into contact with someone who has the virus.
The other reason is that many important workers in our community such as doctors, nurses, day care workers and police will need to stay home to look after their own children. How could our hospital and public services survive without all of these workers! It is not wise for school children to stay with their grandparents due to the risk of cross-contamination.
Self isolation is recommended for any child that has an underlying health condition such as asthma, cystic fibrosis or is immune compromised. Our good friend of mine whose son Kai has cystic fibrosis has moved to the Wheatbelt to isolate, you can read more about this here.
How do I protect my family from Coronavirus?
The best way to channel any worry about the virus is to put your energy into good basic hygiene in your own home, school and work. We’ve listed below precautions you can take.
- Regularly washing your hands very well with soap and water (yes that’s right folks you don’t have to use antibacterial soaps, good scrubbing with soap can remove the germs too! According to Dr Norman Swan on the ABC, “soap is probably best because it removes the fat layer on your skin that holds the virus”.
- If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol based hand sanitiser. According to Dr Swan, hand sanitiser is a very good “runner up” to washing with soap.
- cover a sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, dispose of the tissue appropriately and then wash your hands afterwards
- stay at least a metre away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- stay home if you feel unwell or have a cough or fever.
- if you develop more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing then seek urgent medical attention.
- make sure you and your children are up to date with vaccinations, including influenza.
Do I need to stockpile supplies?
You may have seen a lot of “panic” buying in the media lately. It is not necessary to store large amounts of groceries and household supplies. You may wish to ensure that you have a decent supply of certain items such as your pantry staples, nappies, wipes, baby formula if needed, toilet paper and laundry detergent. You should have just enough to get you through an extra week or two if you do get sick. There is absolutely no need to go overboard. Friends and family can always drop off items if you did happen to go into ‘lockdown’.
If you are reliant on medications then be sure to always stay ahead of your supplies. Visit your doctor if you have concerns or need a prescription. Masks should be saved for those that are infected and working in the health industry. You do not need to wear a mask if you are well.
Keep Up to Date
Follow reliable information sources regarding the Coronavirus such as the Department of Health or the Australian Medical Association. Medical advice is constantly being updated so do check websites regularly. It goes without saying not to believe everything you see or hear on social media. Follow any advice from your local authorities about gatherings or warnings.
Seeking Medical Attention
The following information is from the Health Direct Website on 10/3/20:
For those with Flu-like symptoms
If you or your child have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history.
For those that have recently travelled overseas and have developed a fever or respiratory symptoms, use the healthdirect Symptom Checker to help you decide what to do next or call the Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
Those experiencing any symptoms, you are urged not to visit your GP. Instead, call the Australian Government’s National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. They will inform you of the likelihood of you having caught the virus and the need to be tested.
You can also call the Healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse.
If you do not have symptoms
For general information on the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
For the latest updates on COVID-19 in Australia, visit the Department of Health website.
If you are unsure and still wish to visit your GP for other health reasons, you are urged to call ahead to book your appointment and discuss your symptoms prior to arrival so that you can minimise the risk of infection to others. Your GP will also be able to direct you to the most appropriate service for you whether it be a testing facility or the hospital.