The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has dominated the headlines so far this year.
Every day, we seem to be waking up to a rising number of reported cases, a climbing death toll, and a new global health authority declaring a state of emergency.
However, it’s very important that we don’t get lost in buzzwords and statistics and that we read between the headlines to approach the issue with logic, responsibility, and most importantly, compassion.
As of writing, there have been 43,090 cases reported worldwide, with the death toll at 1,016 in mainland China, and 1 death each in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Nearly 4,000 patients have been cured and discharged in China.
So, with that in mind, here are the 5 main things you need to remember when talking about the coronavirus.
1. Coronavirus symptoms vary from mild to severe
While the virus has tragically claimed the lives of a significant amount of people, symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Contracting the illness does not necessarily mean that it is terminal.
Symptoms can resemble those of the common cold, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and range to more serious symptoms such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.
2. A global health emergency is typically declared to help protect us
The WHO has indeed declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus, as it has previously done for the Swine Flu in 2009, Polio in 2014, Zika in 2016, and Ebola in 2014 and 2019.
However, the word “emergency” shouldn’t scare you.
All it means is that a procedure is being implemented in order to open communication lines between countries and make available the funds needed to tackle the situation.
This is to ensure that the proper measures are being taken to contain the disease and that all the relevant medical, travel and public authorities are working together to achieve that goal.
This is also done to protect countries that are less equipped to handle a potential viral outbreak.
3. Take precautions, but don’t panic
These include regularly washing and disinfecting your hands, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, thoroughly cooking your meat and eggs and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms.
4. Get your information exclusively from reputable sources
Even as you read this article now, remember that the only reliable pieces of information regarding this virus come from the globally recognized agencies and authorities specialized in world public health.
So, for your research and reference, please consult the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control to get accurate and up to date information.
5. Remember the people
It’s easy to forget that there are human lives behind the statistics.
It’s not just those who have contracted the virus, it’s their families; it’s the healthcare professionals who are putting themselves at risk; the millions of people on lockdown to ensure the containment of the virus, and the medical staff who are tirelessly working on a cure.
So, while you should keep your distance from those showing symptoms, please remember to treat people with the compassion and respect they deserve, and to keep in your heart those who have fallen victim to the virus.