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Demystifying Coronavirus with Antara Health

This pandemic will pass but until it does, we all have a role in this fight against Coronavirus. We do best when we support each other.

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This pandemic will pass but until it does, we all have a role in this fight against Coronavirus. We do best when we support each other.

Photo credit: Markus Spiske

This article was originally published here by Dr. Kebba Jobarteh, CEO of Antara Health. 

This is Dr. Kebba Jobarteh, the CEO of Antara Health, and I’m writing to answer some common questions we have been getting related to the Coronavirus outbreak. Let me start with clarifying some terms that can be confusing.

What is the difference between Coronavirus and COVID19?

The Coronavirus is officially named SARS-CoV2. The illness that occurs when a person is infected with the Coronavirus is called COVID-19.

What is the coronavirus?

SARS-CoV2 (otherwise known as the Coronavirus) is a new virus (meaning that human beings have not previously been exposed to it) that was first identified in China in December 2019 and has now spread worldwide. It is a virus that is related those that cause the common cold, but since human beings have not been exposed to it in the past, our immune systems aren’t as effective at controlling its spread right now.

Where is the Coronavirus?

Although the first cases of the coronavirus were identified in China in December 2019, the virus has now spread to every corner of the globe. No part of the world has been spared and the first 2 cases have been recently confirmed here in Kenya.

How does the coronavirus spread?

The virus is spread through droplets from an infected person. Droplets are essentially tiny bits of liquid that people expel when they cough, sneeze, or exhale.

There are two ways to get infected from these droplets. A person can breathe them in directly, which is why we recommend you maintain at least 1 meter’s distance from anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or appears unwell. Even if you don’t breathe the droplets in directly, these droplets can carry the virus and live on various surfaces for a period of time (hours to days).

When a person touches a surface that contains active droplets, the virus gets on that person’s hands. From there, people habitually tend to touch their faces, which is how the virus typically can enter the body. That is why hand washing is so important and can be so effective.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

Symptoms range from mild to severe and are similar to what we commonly refer to as the common cold. These include fever, sore throat and dry cough. Some patients may also have aches and pains, nasal congestion but notably, the infection is not typically associated with a runny nose.

The majority of people infected with the coronavirus are between ages 20–59 and most people recover fully after a mild illness. Some good news is that children appear to have very little risk of developing symptoms from the Coronavirus. Some bad news is that there are large groups of people that appear to be at higher risk of developing severe disease from the Coronavirus and may require hospitalization and even intensive care support.

People at higher risk are those over 60 years of age, those with pre-existing health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and any kind of underlying respiratory illness.

Although there is little data available in these populations, there is a significant likelihood that those who are immunosuppressed, HIV positive or chronically or acutely malnourished are also at elevated risk of developing severe disease.

What should I do to protect myself and others from the Coronavirus?

If you are not at high risk for the disease, then there are a number of steps you should take at home, at work, and in your community to reduce your likelihood of infection, reduce the spread of the virus and protect those most vulnerable in your communities.

For a detailed breakdown, check out Antara’s Recommended Coronavirus Guidelines

But at the very minimum, here are some important steps anyone can take to avoid getting infected or spreading the disease:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds.

  2. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  3. Keep at least 1-meter between you and anyone coughing, sneezing or who appears unwell.

  4. Cough r sneeze into your bent elbow this means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow when sneezing and always avoid coughing in your hands!

  5. Practice social distancing. Social distancing refers to measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the viruWork from home if possible, avoid large gatherings (Sporting events, Religious, Weddings etc.) DON’T shake hands or greet with kisses or hugs.

What should I do if I am at high risk for severe disease?

You should take additional precautions, including engaging in more intense Social Distancing. This means reducing all unnecessary social contact. That can include working from home, arranging for delivery of foods and medications, and being very thoughtful about your interaction with others.

If you live in a shared space, try to designate a part of your living area as exclusively for whomever is at risk.

If you are taking chronic medications, make sure that you have a 2–3-month supply of medications available. If you develop symptoms, let us or a health service provider know immediately.

If you have an elderly loved one, do as much for them as much as possible, but please don’t shut them away. Isolation can actually exacerbate health issues, so make sure to maintain essential social connection.

What should I do if I start to feel sick?

First, don’t panic. If you have a fever and cough, plan on self isolating for 14 days as soon as those symptoms develop. Call the hotline number and inform them of your symptoms. Importantly, if you have mild symptoms, do not go to a health facility without calling first. Doing so might put yourself or other people at risk. Here are Antara’s Self Isolation Guidelines.

If you have severe symptoms and any difficulty breathing, call the hotline immediately and get to the designated Coronavirus facility nearest to you. Here is a list of the approved coronavirus facilities in Kenya hotline telephone numbers: +254 729 471 414/+254 732 353 535 or toll free at 0800 721 316.

Antara members should always call their Health Navigator before heading to the nearest health facility. DO NOT go directly to a health facility without speaking to your Health Navigator first. You may be putting yourself or others at greater risk.

We’re all in this together!

A pandemic can lead to fundamental changes in the way we live our lives. We must be prepared for those changes, embrace them, while remembering that they are temporary. This pandemic will pass but until it does, we all have a role in this fight against Coronavirus. We do best when we support each other. Most people will recover from this virus and if we all do our part, even more will.

This article was originally published here by Dr. Kebba Jobarteh, CEO of Antara Health. 

"Find this information helpful? Spread awareness by sharing with your community. We are all in this together!"

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Jussi Hinkkanen

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