Since last week, there has been drastic increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 from nearby Daegu, Kyeongbuk. Moreover, a few days ago more cases has been confirmed in Ulsan.
Government raised threat alert level from ‘orange’ to ‘red’. UNIST will be taking necessary measures to minimize the damage of the members of the university. At this point, it is no longer the issue of inflow of virus but pervasion throughout the community. Therefore, it is possible to be infected by someone without knowing the transmission course.
How dangerous is it?
According to the source, lethality of the virus is below 1% and it is more dangerous for elderlies and those with chronic illness. It is less dangerous for young and healthy person. Still, it is 20 times more dangerous than flu and 1/20 of MERS and SARS. If an infectious disease spreads same as said disease, the more dangerous it is the less transmissible it is.
But it seems COVID-19 is moderately dangerous that it is spreading very effectively which is why there are cases where infected person, without showing symptoms, spreads virus.
Even if you are infected with the virus it does not automatically mean that you have deadly disease. But since even flu can be fatal, it still is considered dangerous.
How Does It Spread?
It spreads mainly through contact with mucus or saliva containing the virus. So if infected person’s respiratory droplets expelled by coughing gets inside other’s body, it causes infection. Also, if you touch your nose, mouth and any mucosa after touching infected person’s secretions, you will be infected. Therefore it is vital that you wear mask and wash your hands often. Some suggests the possibility of aerosol infection, meaning, infection can occur by far-traveling virus-containing particles in the air but this is possible only in special setting.
There is low chance of being infected just by walking the same street that confirmed patients did. How about the place infected person has just left? Corona virus’s sustenance of infectivity varies from few hours to 2~3 days depending on the type of surface. You can consider disinfected place safe.
What Place Should I Avoid?
Avoid being in cramped space with possible patient or gather densely in a closed space where droplet transmission is possible. It is also dangerous to be at a place with ill people so refrain from visiting patients.
If you want to travel to a country with fewer confirmed patients, be reminded that you are still exposed in public vehicle and airport.
Mask Wearing, Hand Washing, Cough Etiquette
Dealing with infected people, medical staff wears KF94 and N95 mask. Average person can use plain surgical mask which blocks droplet transmission and hand touching nose and mouth or KF80 mask which is more breathable than KF94. You do not have to wear it in an open space but you have to do it in a closed space.
Also, wash your hands with soap and water for more than 30 seconds. If situation does not permit, sanitizer containing more than 60% of alcohol will do. Make sure to follow these even after touching a busy surface such as door handle. When you cough, it is safer to cough/ sneeze into your arm/elbow, not your hand. This prevents infection through hand contact. It is even better if you cough into tissue and throw it in a covered trash can.
What should I do if I have cough, fever, runny nose and breathing problem?
It is not easy, even for medical staffs, to differentiate COVID-19 symptoms from cold or flu symptoms. If you have mild coughing it is recommended to take medicine for cold and monitor the progress. If people flock to triage room, it will not function properly and it is possible to get infected there.
Since common cold also entails upper respiratory tract infection, when you sneeze, you will feel tickle in your nose and mouth just as normal tickle sneeze. However, in the case of COVID-19 which affects lower respiratory tract, when you cough, you will feel whole chest heavily shaken. Monitor first if you think it is a common cold but if you feel too restless or breathless, call 1339 or a nearby public health center.
Basic health habits
Have a consistent health habits to keep yourself not only from COVID-19 but also common cold. Sleeping, eating, exercising, and resting enough aid keeping your immune system. Keep 7~8 hours of sleeping time and have a balanced meal. Rest assured that it is unlikely to get infected by just shortly sitting nearby the coronavirus patient (talking and sharing food with one within 2m of the patient is another story).
Outdoor or home exercise is recommended against working out in a gym with many people share the facility. Also, do not forget to take sufficient rest. Taking care of your psychological stress also enhances immune system. Lastly, make drinking lukewarm water a habit and keep your throat moist. If you do not have humidifier, hanging up a wet towel is also a way.
Anxiety is a normal reaction toward infectious disease as well as earthquake and accident. Being mildly anxious aids us to be cautious and prudent. Regardless of the fact whether it was enemy or wind, animal that runs away from sudden sound is being prudent for one’s survival. Being anxious itself is not a problem but sustained feeling of fear, threat, and anger is. If your daily life is greatly affected by the sad feelings and it is sustained, we recommend you trying various services from Healthcare Center (psychological counseling, video-chat/chatting counseling, mindfulness meditation app and etc.).
Perfectionist and Obsession
Anxiousness can lead to compulsive searching of information. You may watch the news relentlessly and if that’s not enough, you even look up tabloid news of unclear source. Words like “shocking” or “unbelievable” would catch your attention then you may look for someone on whom you will take your anger out.
When a person is overwhelmed by the feeling of anxiety, brain does not function properly to make rational judgment. Do not overload your mind but instead, focus on the essential information and rechannel your anxiety through exercise or conversation with friends and family.
As mentioned above, after looking for “perpetrator”, some people start to discriminate. Based on unscientific and irrational reasoning, they discriminate certain nationality, religion, and community, to release their negative emotion. However such temporary venting out of anger will not make one feel any better. It is only disrupting collective problem solving.
For instance, it is more significant to inform and guide each other about precautionary measures than determine the value of certain religion. Avoid contact in a small space and follow medical staffs’ instruction if you are having respiratory symptoms or contacted an infected person.
Here and now
It is important that each focus on individual responsibilities that can be done ‘here and now’. Saying ‘this wouldn’t have happened if they restricted inflow of Chinese people’ does not change anything. Moreover, it is said that even the border restriction only delays the spread by 1week to 2months cannot stop it completely. As even Italy and Iran are affected, it is clear that the virus is highly infectious.
Also, there is no point in worrying about far future. It is better to leave that to the experts.
For now, you need to think about how to keep yourself healthy and safe during this 1~2weeks. It is difficult to avoid every public place and public vehicles. There is no point of locking yourself in your room just for one day either since you may head to crowded place, out of frustration. Strategize a viable plan for minimizing face to face contact. You could take a walk along the riverside or video chat with your friends or watch Netfflix instead of going to movie theater.
I wish you will push through this week safe and well.
For further queries, please contact: UNIST Healthcare Center (firstname.lastname@example.org).
※ Editor’s Note: Director Dooyoung Jung of UNIST Healthcare Center has announced multiple preventive measures against the COVID-19 via UNIST News Center. Thus, we would like to share this with the entire UNIST community to keep you safe and healthy.