COVID-19 aka CORONAVIRUS is creating chaos and panic over the world and rightly so. For sure, the media has taken hold of it and created a scenario of fear, however, after SARS respecting any potential pandemic is no bad thing.
I am not a medical expert but I travel and I travel a great deal. With much of my work taking places at races, public gatherings and in locations throughout Europe and beyond, I wanted to understand what I was dealing with and pass on my thoughts.
I was in Hong Kong in January for a race. As I landed and transferred to meet the RD for dinner, the race was cancelled… Yes, the virus and reaction to it was changing by the hour.
I decided to cut my trip short, escape Hong Kong and return to the UK so that it would not impact on future work.
As February comes to a close, the situation is now greater than one month ago with the virus appearing in New Zealand, Italy and many more locations.
CDC have listed several points on the virus:
- The virus is spread mainly person-to-person.
- Between people in close contact, less than 6-feet.
- Via respiratory droplets when coughing or sneezing by an infected person.
- Touching surfaces or an object that has the virus on it – this is then passed on when the person then touches eyes, nose or mouth.
- It appears that people who are infected are most contagious when at their sickest.
- Some virus spreading may be possible before people show symptoms.
You will have seen many images coming from China and Hong Kong showing everyone wearing masks. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a completely safe thing to do – masks have issues and problems:
You only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person WITH the virus.
Wear a mask if YOU are coughing and sneezing, this stops potential spreading.
Masks are only effective when combined with frequent hand cleansing.
Masks MUST be worn correctly and changed regularly.
Tips for mask use:
- Clean hands with alcohol based cleanser.
- Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps.
- Do not touch the mask whilst wearing, if you do, cleanse hands.
- If mask becomes damp, replace.When removing mask, do not touch the front, remove from behind and discard immediately.
As a runner or endurance athlete, the last thing we want is a virus that impacts on breathing. Covid-19 needs to be respected, despite what you may think about the media and its scaremonger tactics.
Cases are now reaching close to 100,000 and the situation is changing daily.
Incubation period is up to two weeks and this is why the virus is spreading worldwide, it is so difficult to track and contain. Once a positive case is found, it is too late as more will be infected and then the reverse pyramid scenario starts.
What can you do?
Look after personal hygiene.
Avoid public places and gatherings.
When traveling, avoid travel through highly infected areas. Particularly important for long-haul travel. Much better to pass through the Middle East (for now) than pass through China, Hong Kong or Bangkok.
Face masks have a place but understand the restrictions that they have.
Public toilets, bars, restaurants etc etc are a potential perfect storm for passing on the virus, so, avoid in areas of potential or real risk.
As I write, the W.H.O says we are at a ‘Decisive Point’ in the outbreak.
Cases in the UK have risen (19) and New Zealand, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Nigeria have announced first cases. The stock markets across the globe have plunged under the fear of recession. Cases have been confirmed above 84,000 and currently 2867 deaths (sources The Independent and Worldometers)
The Swiss government has banned events with more than 1000 people and already we have seen mass participation events cancelled globally.
NBC has confirmed the virus has spread to at least 40 countries worldwide. It says cases in the USA have been limited but warns, “Americans should prepare for the spread of the virus in communities.”
Ultimately, COVID-19 currently is spreading, we personally need to be aware of risks and mitigate as appropriate. With each passing day, more news comes in and it can be terrifying but let’s keep perspective too, the common Flu can kill up to 646,000 people per year (medicinenet.com) – the figure coming from the US Centers for Disease Control.
So, be careful out there and keep a perspective of the risk, start to do the following now:
Wash hands frequently.
Maintain social distancing.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Feel unwell, seek medical advice immediately.
Do not cough or sneeze in public.
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