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What WHO wants you to know about the new coronavirus, COVID-19

Who better to tell you on what to do during this pandemic caused by COVID-19 other than the World Health Organisation (WHO)?

It is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The organisation’s main objective is to ensure “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”

Basically, the public can rely on them for the most accurate information when it comes to pandemics, diseases and overall health.

While you cannot rely on your minister’s advice – the one who advised that drinking warm water will fight the coronavirus, or your president who wants to end the lockdown while the virus is advancing – you can always rely on WHO.

Since the virus is new, scientists are racing against time to research more about it. According to The Guardian as of 26 March, about 35 companies and academic institutions are working on a vaccine, and the US has already started human trials, so while researchers are still doing their jobs, any other unconfirmed news about the coronavirus should not be shared.

WHO is constantly updating the public with the latest information and discovery on the coronavirus.

Here is KajoMag’s summary of what the World Health Organisation wants you to know about the new coronavirus, COVID-19:

1.Why you should wash your hands regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub?

You have heard it over and over again; wash your hands! Frequently washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand solution kill viruses that may be on your hands. It is as simple as that but still very important.

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Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Credits: Pixabay

2.Why is it important to cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or tissue when you sneeze or cough?

Droplets spread the coronavirus. By following respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from contracting viruses such as cold, flu and coronavirus.

3.Why you should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth?

You hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses, Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

4.Why social distancing is important?

By maintaining at least one metre’s distance from others, you are helping to avoid breathing in any droplets from someone who sneezes or coughs in close proximity.

If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets including the COVID-19 if the person coughing has the disease.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

5.Are smokers and tobacco users at higher risk of COVID-19 infection?

Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth.

Besides, smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which greatly increase risk of serious illness.

Debunking some myths on coronavirus

COVID-19 virus CAN be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates.

From the evidence so far, COVID-19 CAN be transmitted in ALL AREAS including areas with hot and humid weather.

So it doesn’t matter if you are out in the sun where the beach is or in an air-conditioned room, the virus can transmitted in ALL AREAS.

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According to WHO, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands.

By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronovirus.

To date, there is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus.

The normal human body temperature remains the same regardless of the external temperature or weather.

Again, taking a hot bath does not prevent the COVID-19 virus because your temperature still remain the same.

An ultraviolet disinfection lamp cannot kill COVID-19 virus.

In fact, these lamps should not be used to sterilise hands and UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

Eating garlic cannot help prevent infection with the COVID-19.

Garlic may be a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence that eating it has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalised for COVID-19, you may receive antibiotics because co-infection is possible.

Here are some of the things WHO has not confirmed about the coronavirus as research is still underway:

1.Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19?

The data is limited but there is no evidence that pregnant women are at a higher risk for severe illness than the general population.

Nonetheless, due to the changes in their bodies and immune systems, pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections.

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Therefore, it is important for pregnant women to report any possible symptoms to their doctors.

You can read more about Coronavirus, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding here.

2.How long can COVID-19 can survive on a dry surface?

As at the time of writing, there is no data available on COVID-19 stability on surfaces. So far, laboratory studies have shown SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV that stability in the environment depends on several factors.

These factors include relative temperature, humidity and surface type.

However, the preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.

3.Can the COVID-19 virus be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.

However, WHO is assessing ongoing research on other ways COVID-19 is spread and will share updated findings.

WHO also advised to keep yourself updated on the latest COVID-19 hotspots. These are the cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely.

If possible, avoid travelling to such places especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.

At the end of the day, keep yourself updated only from verified news. Do not rely on forwarded text messages or unverified testimonies on social media. Who cares what your parents’ neighbours’ third cousin says about the coronavirus – if it has not been scientifically proven, do not believe in it.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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