Why We Need a Consistent, Science-Backed Approach to Coronavirus
March 9, 2020 / Corporate Wellness
**Watch the expert Q&A webinar on coronavirus and employee health and wellbeing featuring Dr. David Batman and Dr. Gary Smithson.**
The world has been anxiously watching as the number of cases of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to rise. We are in a collective state of heightened awareness. In my medical career, I’ve never seen a new disease receive as much concern and media presence — which is both helping and hindering in different ways. The political, economic, business and social ramifications are immense, but the immediate access to educational resources is necessary to control the spread of the disease. Due to the size and scale of the impacts this coronavirus is having, organizations need to prepare themselves accordingly.
Take A Unified, Science-Backed Approach to Coronavirus
To prepare accordingly, organizations and individuals need to first look beyond the media hype and get an accurate picture of their relative risk.
Over a medical career spanning 47 years, 30 of which I have been a Registered Specialist in occupational medicine, I have seen previous Zoonoses (a disease which originates in animals or birds and passed to humans). We have faced diseases like coronavirus before. For example, other viruses that came from other species and transmitted to humans include HIV, SARS, MERS, Zika, Ebola Anthrax and Dengue Fever.
I advise everyone to address and mitigate their risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19. Simultaneously, I want people to prepare themselves for COVID-19 related issues, some of which are causing me great concern. For example, the spread of misinformation, misleading information, false information is contributing to increasing levels of anxiety, depression, stress, hysteria, social isolation, panic shopping and hostility between people.
To successfully manage the current situation, we must have a consistent and coordinated approach based on science, medicine (both preventive and treatment), political strength and acceptance. A science-backed, common sense approach has worked in the past, and it will work now. It’s time to avoid our differences and act together.
COVID-19: Current Impact
For an accurate picture of the global impact of the novel coronavirus, the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is updated daily. Many deaths have occurred in people over the age of 70 and with pre-existing diseases.
Unfortunately, the virus can be very serious for those with existing diseases, such as respiratory illnesses, heart conditions or diabetes. The number of cases is also filling beds in hospitals and stressing our healthcare systems, so it’s important that all of us follow the recommended guidelines to prevent or reduce the spread of this disease.
Get full access to the COVID-19 Awareness toolkit below
The symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- General feeling unwell
- Night sweats
- Tight chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry cough
- Muscle or body aches
- Sudden loss of taste or smell
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Congestion or runny nose
The symptoms of a common cold or influenza are fever, general feeling unwell, sore throat, sneezing and a cough. If you have these symptoms and haven’t been to a high-risk area nor had face-to-face contact with someone that has, it’s more likely you have a common cold. If you are exhibiting symptoms or are concerned you may have contracted the virus, avoid contact with others and phone your doctor or a health clinic for advice. Remain calm and follow the guidance of the medical community.
We are grappling with a new virus that is spreading quickly and can have a poor outcome for some vulnerable members of society. Currently, there is no treatment for the virus and no vaccine is likely to be available until 2021, so it’s important to take precautions and reduce your risk.
Tips to Manage Risk and Impact to Those Around You
Get the Facts
- Know the facts and keep your relative risk in perspective.
- Avoid using unsubstantiated reference sources like social media or unverified news sites. Refer to the WHO’s guidance on workplace safety and preparedness and other verified sources listed below.
Practice Self-Care and Good Hygiene
- The best method of prevention is to wash your hands regularly, especially at work and in public places. Avoid hand to mouth and hand to nose contact and take extra precaution after being in shared spaces. Evidence shows that these simple actions can reduce your risk considerably.
- Keep fit and well — get regular exercise, stay hydrated, eat well and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- If you do develop symptoms, call, but do not visit, your local doctor and get tested.
- Wear a mask when out in public. A suitable mask would fit tightly across the mouth and nose, and should be thick enough that you are unable to see through the material when held up to the light. Bandanas and neck gaiters are not suitable masks.
- When sneezing, rather than into your hand, try and remember to sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your elbow. If you do sneeze into your hands wash them ASAP and avoid other hand contacts until you’ve done so.
- Check-in on your elderly relatives, neighbors or those you know who have chronic medical conditions. Social isolation and fear can have negative effects on health. If you’re feeling under the weather, keep in contact by telephone, Skype and so on.
Follow Guidelines and Procedures
- Do not travel to an area with high infection rate and take note of travel advice from your usual sources of national travel advisories.
- Adhere to your company procedures and workplace screening protocols. If you are experiencing any symptoms or are feeling under the weather, get tested and stay home until advice has been given from a medical professional.
My advice is to keep fit, look at the risk in perspective, get your flu shot, but above all — regularly wash your hands — and not just for coronavirus, but for all the other viruses and bacteria that lurk around us. With the right response, we can control the spread of COVID-19 and help everyone around us stay healthy.
Additional COVID-19 Resources
- Expert Q&A: Coronavirus and Employee Health and Wellbeing
- COVID-19 Awareness Toolkit
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Coronavirus COVID-19 : Online Dashboard by John Hopkins University
- British Medical Journal resource center
- The Lancet Coronavirus resource center