The epidemic of the new coronavirus COVID-2019, which began at the end of last year and gained momentum in early 2020 (the WHO later labelled it as a pandemic), has led to a significant change in the lifestyle of many people on the planet. The surest way to protect yourself is staying at home, but not everyone can afford such a luxury, as some professions need to go to work. In addition, any person sometimes needs to buy goods, but there is no guarantee that he will not meet a patient with coronavirus (or its carrier).
Proper knowledge of the transmission routes of COVID-2019 (alternatively 2019-nCoV) should help prevent its dissemination.
It is believed that the main route of infection with COVID-2019 is through personal contact, especially close contact.
Just imagine: a man can infect his wife and children if they live in the same apartment. Or, hypothetically: you visit the supermarket and an individual infected with a virus sneezes close to you. You inhale small particles of moisture with the viral infection and it enters your organism.
Or you can meet a friend who is sick with 2019-nCoV and touches his nose or mouth with his hand.
A liquid with a virus has got onto his hand and when you shake his hand and then touch your face parts (without washing hands before this), you can also become infected with this dangerous disease.
According to a recent Singaporean study, 2019-nCoV can also be excreted in the feces, since test samples taken from the sink and toilet proved to be positive.
However, this statement requires additional research.
Pregnancy and Lactation
It is not yet clear whether coronavirus can be transmitted in the womb from mother to baby, as well as during childbirth or breastfeeding. Doctors advise removing newborns from mothers after birth if the latter have confirmed coronavirus.
There are no approved rules with regard to the allowability of breastfeeding and the correct behavior of the mother during this time. However, it is suggested that females with confirmed or suspected diseases use a facemask before breastfeeding, as well as wash their hands well before doing this, plus before using a breast pump or bottle.
As reported in many studies and medical observations, the clinical manifestations of coronavirus in children are less serious than in adults, however, young children, particularly infants, are vulnerable to the COVID-2019 infection. According to scientists, a high-risk group includes those who are less than five years old, who have weakened immunity and lung problems.
Can an Asymptomatic Person be Contagious?
According to WHO, the likelihood of contracting COVID infection from an individual who experiences the illness asymptomatically is low. However, there are proofs that the 2019-nCoV transmission is possible from people who have no clinical manifestations at all or their symptoms are so weak that they don’t consider themselves sick.
In any case, the highest contagiousness is observed in people with serious symptoms of coronavirus (also because they actively secrete the virus by sneezing / coughing).
Contamination Through Surfaces
There are dozens of surfaces that are often touched, so viruses can be found on them. These are door handles, elevator buttons, handrails on the escalator and stairs, the surface of tables, etc. The list is unlimited. It is not known exactly how long COVID can live on external surfaces. But by analogy with other viruses, it can be assumed that survival lasts from several hours to a couple of days. This depends, inter alia, on the temperature and humidity in the room. Therefore, if in doubt, disinfect a specific surface.
Is It Possible to Get the Virus through Food?
There is presently no evidence of possible coronavirus infection through consumption of food products. As noted above, a viral disease is transmitted by airborne droplets, in contrast to gastrointestinal viruses such as norovirus.
Read our article: Coronavirus – Pandemic vs Epidemic
How to Get Protected Properly?
This can be a difficult task, especially if you are surrounded by other people, but there are some good recommendations to minimize the risk of infection:
- Stand back. Do not come close to sneezing / coughing people. According to the WHO, a safe distance is 3 feet, while the US CDC considers it to be 6 feet.
- Avoid touching organs on your face. Influenza virus and coronavirus spread through respiratory pathways and you can simply inhale pathogens.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 1/3 of a minute or treat them with an alcohol-based product.
- Avoid contact of hands with face, as we touch many objects with our hands (and these objects can be contaminated) or handshake with persons who are ill.
- Stay home if possible. Avoid groups of people. Stay home anyway if you feel unwell or if you are in quarantine regime associated with contact with a patient or for other reasons.
Now experts suggest that there is no strict necessity to wear a facemask for protection, but the health authorities of some countries advise this, in addition, wearing a mask applies to individuals with corona infection (proven or potential).
Important tip: a healthy lifestyle increases the body’s resistance to viral infections. Follow a healthy regimen, including proper sleep, consumption of foods rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, as well as physical activity.
What If You Work in the Service Sector?
The American CDC advises a number of measures for this category of people (most of them are general and apply to all folks):
- Prevent close contacts with people who seem sick.
- No touches of the face with the hands.
- A must-follow rule, without exceptions: stay home if you feel unwell.
- In case of sneezing or coughing, do it in a tissue, then roll it up and throw it into the bin.
- Wash your hands meticulously with soap for 20 secs minumum (plain old soap would be pretty ok), especially if you plan to visit or have visited the toilet, as well as before sneezing and coughing and after that.
If you cannot wash your hands, use disinfectant solutions containing at least 60% ethyl alcohol. Always wash them if you see that they are substantially dirty.
I’m an Oncologist and Hematology Specialist primary located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. I have over 55 years of experience in the medical field and more than 20 years of practice. I’m skilled at the treatment & diagnosis of a large array of ailments & diseases in adults.
- American Board of Internal Medicine Certification in Internal Medicine
- American Board of Hematology Certification in Hematology
- American Board of Medical Oncology Certification in Medical Oncology