Photo © Imperial College London

A very different post was planned to be posted today but there is an elephant in the room that I’ve finally decided to cover: NOVEL CORONAVIRUS SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, the disease it causes.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a virologist but I’m a fully functioning science journalist, one of my degrees is in biology(physiology)and I’ve been keeping an eye on this issue as I’ve been covering it for a Russian media since January: for my Russian speaking audience: that’s the link.

And I think it’s much more important tp spread some info about it than to post another travel guide. Just to let you know: I suppose I’ll be staying in the UK for at least a month when I come back from Malta, and we’ve already cancelled our trips to Croatia and Dubai. Staying safe and responsible is our priority now – and I hope you share our views. 

 

Important rules to follow:

  • Wash your hands at least 20 sec and more often than you usually do or use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Sneeze and cough in a tissue (and throw it to the bin immediately) or in your elbow.
  • Don’t wear a mask unless you’re sick or you’re caring for someone who is sick (but if masks prevents you from touching your face – scroll below)
  • Avoid touching your face, especially the eyes.
  • Take self quarantine seriously: if you travelled from a country with high number of cases (Italy/China/Iran/South Korea etc), stay at home (ideally don’t go outside at all) for two weeks. If you ignore this, you might spread the infection even if you don’t have any symptoms and, for instance, get your friends’s grandparents killed (sorry for being so straightforward).
    Try to quarantine your elders and self quarantine yourself if you have any symptoms.

  • Don’t be racist/nationalist, throughout the human history viruses emerged from all sorts of geographic locations. We’re all in one boat struggling with SARS-CoV-2. 
  • Don’t panic and don’t overreact. It’s not a zombie apocalypse until you haven’t made your mind on it.
  • Educate yourself. More you know and more you understand the scientific side, lesser are chances you’ll perceive the situation subjectively. Emotions are important but (sometimes) it’s more important to stay reasonable.
  • Check trustworthy sources of information like the WHO website – for instance, their reports. If you think that reports come out a bit too slowly (I do), check this live map. 

  • Think about other people. If you haven’t recently been to Italy/China/Iran/South Korea etc and haven’t talked to anyone who has, don’t rush to your doctor to check for SARS-CoV-2 just because. You might delay the visit of people who need the check more than you.
    Same with buying things: if you ever choose to stock, make the stock for a short period of time, not for the years ahead. You really don’t need all that toilet paper, food, masks and drugs – but other people really might do.

    Important info:

     

  • At the time of writing the countries with the highest number of cases are as follows:
    Mainland China
    Italy
    Islamic Republic of Iran 
    Republic of Korea
    France
    Spain
    Germany
  • The wast majority of people have only mild symptoms
  •  The elderly people, especially with underlying conditions, are at the highest risk
  •  Children seem to be affected less than it was expected
  •  Mortality is low: check the mortality for flu and relax
  • The main symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath; running nose is not a main symptom
  • Bacteria and viruses are different entities, antibacterial products target bacteria, not viruses. 

    Video produced by the WHO is below:

 

Further reading:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, WHO

Steps to Prevent Illness, CDC

Updates from Nature 

Live map

Coronavirus: How do I get tested and how does the test work?

Should I shave my beard, can I get COVID-19 twice, and every other question you might have about the coronavirus

Coronavirus: How close are we to a vaccine?

Clinical presentation and virological assessment of hospitalized cases of coronavirus disease 2019 in a travel-associated transmission cluster

The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application

‘A completely new culture of doing research.’ Coronavirus outbreak changes how scientists communicate

Why does the coronavirus spread so easily between people?

The coronavirus seems unstoppable. What should the world do now?


P.S.: I didn’t updated the page with my popsci articles for ages but I promise I will!

Stay safe!

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