Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) held a media briefing on the COVID-19 coronavirus and the seriousness of this epidemic.
One thing was made very clear- and that is that the time to act is NOW.
This is not a drill.
This is a serious epidemic that cannot not be ignored.
Here’s a briefing on the situation, precautions the WHO have suggested and what our government is doing to protect us.
Plus, we’ll tell you what you can do in order to make sure you’re fully prepared.
The Time to Act is Now
WHO Director, General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’, opening remarks at the press conference on the coronavirus stressed the importance of political intervention in order to slow the spread of the disease.
“We are concerned that in some countries the level of political commitment and the actions that demonstrate that commitment do not match the level of the threat we all face.
This is not a drill.
This is not the time to give up.
This is not a time for excuses.
This is a time for pulling out all the stops.
Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans.”
At the end of the day, how deadly the coronavirus will be depends not just on the virus itself, but on how we respond to it. This is not something to be taken lightly, and every country needs to be on the defense.
The Director-General reminds the heads of state, “This virus will touch everything, from the social fabric to the economy and that is why the response needs to be mobilized in every sector.”
In recent weeks, the virus caused trade shows and conferences around the world to be cancelled or postponed. And I wouldn't be surprised if more upcoming events follow suit as we learn about the severity of the situation.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Fortunately, Presidient Trump was praised as one of the heads of state that have taken the right steps to mobilize and make the response “every citizen’s business”.
But, we need every country to act with the same speed and determination if we want to contain the virus. Rich or poor- this epidemic is a threat to everyone worldwide. The WHO explicitly said that, “Even high-income countries should expect surprises.”
Dr. Michael J Ryan, also on the panel, responded to the question “Is this really that dire?”
He reminds us that this is not the first major epidemic we have faced and calls us to remember the lessons we have learned from the past.
“Break down the problem. Adapt the response to those needs and distribute the resources according to priority…
Command, Control, Coordination, Coherence.“
Dr. Ryan says it’s the containment and control measures that will slow down the spread of this disease.
Whole governments and every citizen need to take this seriously.
So what do we do?
We need to not only be prepared, but aggressively prepared for what is to come.
Just because there are confirmed cases in our country, doesn’t mean that it has to get out of control. We have been cautioned that there is a big difference between “uncontrolled” and “uncontrollable”.
It comes down to “fundamental public health measures” by each sector of government AND by the citizens individually.
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The Scary Truth: “Wait and See”
There are currently 95,265 reported cases of COVID-19 globally.
Part of the fear we have today comes with the question of asymptomatic transmission, meaning people who show no signs or symptoms of the virus, but are still infected.
There isn’t enough evidence at this point to know if this is a major driver of transmission. But, it leaves much room for concern since there are people possibly spreading the disease as “carriers” and they have no idea that they are infected.
Here’s what we do know about transmission – similar to SARS it is spread through droplets and can live on surfaces.
BUT – it can be killed by disinfectant. So, basic measures such as hand washing and using disinfectants like Lysol can do a lot to stop surface transmission.
Regarding animals… again, “wait and see” is what we have to do. So far one old dog has tested positive and there isn’t any evidence that the transmission will go from human to pet or pet to human and there are not current policies and actions being taken to quarantine animals unnecessarily.
So what can you do to properly protect yourself?
Get Prepared Now
With the possibility of asymptomatic cases out there, the only way to truly protect yourself is to limit your interactions with others. The proximity of people to one another is what’s spreading the virus.
Stay away from places where large crowds are constantly coming and going- think Costco, Target, CVS, etc. The closer we are to one another, the easier it is for the virus to spread.
Right now, everyone is in a state of panic and heading to the store in order to stock up on supplies.
You will find more infographics at Statista
All it takes is one infected person who isn’t showing any symptoms to hand over money carrying the virus to the cashier at the grocery store. Once the cashier touches that dollar, the virus can infect every single customer going through that line. And that's just where it would start…
So, start utilizing a grocery delivery service and when you do leave the house, make sure you’re taking every preventative measure possible.
This means washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time. Be sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first.
If you do go out in public, keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer on hand and use it often. Remember that the virus can live on fabric for up to 12 hours.
Bottom line: this is a big deal. Sitting by and acting like there’s nothing that can be done, or treating this like an uncontrollable influenza is not only incorrect, it is dangerous.
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