The outbreak of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has developed into a pandemic. Covid-19 lung disease affects people around the world and the number of deaths is increasing.
How can you protect yourself from infection? – SOS tips:
“Novel coronavirus” – that was the provisional name of the virus at the beginning of the pandemic. Often it was initially referred to as “2019nCoV”. The virus now has the official name: SARS-CoV-2. It triggers the disease “Covid-19”.
In order to protect yourself as well as possible from being infected with Covid-19, you should know how an infection occurs: The SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted from person to person. On the way of a droplet infection, for example when someone coughs up. Or via a smear infection, if you touch contaminated objects with viruses on them, such as door handles or light switches, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
How to protect yourself:
Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap: at least for a period of 20 seconds, because this is the only way to reduce the number of germs on the hands to a thousandth and less. If your hands are very dirty, you should wash for more than 20 seconds. – For a better assessment of how long 20 seconds are, you can sing the Happy Birthday song twice.
According to the RKI (Robert Koch Institute), the additional use of a disinfectant is usually not necessary in private surroundings. This only makes sense if, for example, a family member is sick or people with weakened immune systems live in the household with an increased risk of infection. However, hand disinfection should be done when entering and leaving a hospital.
Avoid shaking hands. This is especially true in the event of illness.
Keep your distance from others. If someone is sick, the distance should be at least one and a half to two meters.
The RKI recommends wearing a mouth and nose cover in certain situations in public spaces. The speed of spread of Covid-19 could be reduced in this way, but only if the minimum distance of 1.5 meters to other people, the coughing and sneezing rules and hand hygiene are still observed. The risk of infecting others can thus be reduced. However, there are no indications for self-protection (information from the Robert Koch Institute). Since the viral load that lands on the mucous membranes can be reduced when the mouth and nose are covered, a milder course of Covid-19 is suspected in the event of an infection.
Since the eyes can also be a gateway for viruses, well-fitting protective goggles with side protection provide additional protection against infection. This can be particularly useful for people with a weakened immune system.
When using public toilets, close the toilet lid before flushing: During the flushing process, virus-contaminated aerosol clouds can be dispersed in the air and inhaled.
Follow rules of conduct when coughing and sneezing:
Anyone who has to cough or sneeze should keep at least three feet away from other people and turn away.
Use a disposable handkerchief and only use it once. Then dispose of in a bin with a lid. Do not wash used handkerchiefs below 60 degrees.
If you have to sneeze or cough and don’t have a handkerchief, it is best to sneeze and cough in the crook of your arm and not in your hand.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing.
Anyone who has an acute respiratory infection and has to be in public can protect their fellow human beings by wearing mouth and nose protection (e.g. a surgical mask). The risk of infection from droplets that occur when coughing or sneezing can thus be reduced for other people.
Recommended behavior for protection in everyday life:
Stay home as often as possible. Limit personal meetings with the elderly or chronically ill to protect them.
Avoid shaking hands and hugs.
Ventilate common rooms regularly.
Keep your distance from others. Especially to sick people with respiratory symptoms.
Anyone who is sick themselves should stay at home. Only contact the doctor by phone at first.
If someone falls ill in the same household, they should be physically separated from other family members. Sufficient distance from one another is important. If the toilet is shared by all family members: Always fold the toilet lid down before flushing.
Work from home if possible. After consultation with the employer. Keep necessary professional meetings short and work together in well-ventilated rooms. The distance to other people should be at least one and a half meters.
Refrain from visiting restaurants or canteens. Definitely avoid the rush hour. At best, eat alone in the office.
Avoid using public transport if possible. Better to walk, bike or drive your own car.
Better postpone private and business trips by bus, train, ship or plane.
Avoid large events and places with large crowds such as swimming pools, shopping malls, theaters, clubs.
Only visit public institutions such as offices and authorities in urgent cases.
Postpone larger private celebrations and restaurant visits if possible. If a visit cannot be avoided, follow the hygiene rules consistently.
Do not go shopping during normal peak hours. It is best to use delivery services.
Elderly or chronically ill people need help. Therefore one should give them support. Among other things, by shopping for groceries and other items for daily needs.
How is Covid-19 transmitted?
So far, it has been known that Covid-19 is spread through droplet infection, for example when coughing or speaking. The SARS-CoV-2 pathogen multiplies in the throat and is also detectable in normal exhaled air. Infection can also take place via small droplets in the air (aerosols), including when singing or laughing out loud. It is believed that air conditioning systems can distribute the virus particles over a wide area. The risk of contracting the virus is greater indoors than outdoors. Covid-19 sufferers are contagious one to three days before the onset of the first symptoms. According to information from virologists, SARS-CoV-2 can presumably also multiply in the gastrointestinal tract. One cannot rule out a risk of infection via faecal excretions. It is therefore possible that one can also become infected with Covid-19 by inhaling virus-contaminated aerosol clouds that are distributed in the air when flushing a toilet.
Covid-19: course of the disease
Covid-19 begins with rather unspecific symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever and cough, and sometimes shortness of breath. Symptoms that can also occur with the flu. However, this new type of lung disease only occasionally results in headaches and body aches. Patients rarely have a runny nose. The cough with Covid-19 disease is often dry, the fever does not start suddenly, as is typical for the flu, but it rises slowly and remains constant over a period of about ten days. With the flu, however, the condition of those affected worsens significantly within a few hours. This is not the case with Covid-19. Some patients experience diarrhea and often infected people suffer from a loss of their sense of smell and taste for several days, which can, however, also present itself with the flu. Around 81 percent of those suffering from Covid-19 only develop weak symptoms. This is especially true for children and younger women. However, in one in five infected people, the disease takes a severe, potentially fatal course. Elderly and men are particularly affected.
If pneumonia develops, doctors speak of a severe course of the disease, because this can lead to acute and life-threatening lung failure.
In the worst case scenario, a Covid 19 infection can cause blood poisoning (sepsis). Those affected then initially suffer from confusion, faster and more difficult breathing, fear of death as well as rapidly falling blood pressure and a racing heart. Sick people say they have never suddenly felt so sick before. This is an alarm signal for the doctors. You must now immediately take further steps to save the patient’s life. Because the later a viral sepsis is treated, the more often it is fatal. Current studies have shown that people with Covid 19 who are older than 69 years are prone to pneumonia and sepsis.
According to the RKI, the proportion of milder courses outside of China is 81 percent. However, doctors from Hong Kong reported that some patients suffered severe and permanent lung damage, called pulmonary fibrosis, despite what appeared to be mild disease. So far it is not known whether these are isolated cases or whether these long-term damage occur more frequently.
Patients with only mild symptoms are usually symptom-free after ten to 14 days. Anyone who has a more severe course and needs hospital treatment can be ill for three to six weeks.
What symptoms does the coronavirus trigger?
The new lung disease Covid-19 mostly shows unspecific symptoms. In three quarters of patients, fever and dry cough are the most common symptoms. Unexplained fever alone can also occur with the disease. Headaches and sore throats only occur occasionally. This also applies to symptoms such as tiredness, body aches and shortness of breath. A runny nose and a runny nose are rare. Diarrhea is also rare. If someone only suffers from a cold or diarrhea, an infection with Covid-19 is more likely to be excluded. Often people are infected with the virus but do not yet show any symptoms. Like flu viruses, the SARS-CoV-2 viruses multiply in the throat. The pathogen particularly infects cells in the lower respiratory tract and can cause pneumonia. Some people infected with the pathogen only suffer from mild cold symptoms with chills and sore throats. Fever doesn’t always occur. – According to WHO information, around 81 percent of cases are mild. This is also observed by the Chinese health authority. However, around 14 percent of patients experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath. Covid-19 is life-threatening in just under five percent. The lung disease then leads to respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ failure. The WHO states that children are rarely affected.
How contagious is Covid-19?
The virus is easily transmitted and is also passed on by people who do not have symptoms themselves. The Robert Koch Institute states that the pathogen is significantly more infectious than originally assumed. According to current knowledge, the incubation period is two to 14 days. China Daily reports an average incubation period of three days. In rare cases, there can be a period of up to 24 days between the infection and the appearance of the first symptoms. However, experts currently see no reason to extend the previously usual quarantine period of 14 days.
How dangerous is Covid-19?
The new SARS-CoV-2 virus belongs to the same type of virus as Sars, but is a different variant, according to the Institute for Virologists at Charité Berlin. The number of current illnesses now far exceeds that of the Sars pandemic in 2002/2003. At that time, a total of 8,000 people suffering from the infection were recorded, of which around one in ten died. – So far, 13,832,591 people worldwide have contracted Covid-19 and 591,260 died from the consequences of the virus (as of July 17, 2020). According to the authorities, most deaths primarily affect older people, some of whom have severe previous illnesses. Currently, proportionally more people die from Covid-19 than from other flu viruses. Estimates assume a mortality rate for Covid 19 diseases that is between 0.3 and 0.7 percent.
How do you test for infection with Covid-19?
The detection of the virus SARS-CoV-2 takes place via swabs from the mouth, nose or throat. If the result is positive, the smear should contain the genetic material of the novel coronavirus. In certain laboratories, the viral genetic material is then detected using sensitive, molecular tests. The full name of the test is “real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction”, or RT-PCR for short. A device duplicates the little genetic material in the laboratory sample in several cycles. Whether or not the corresponding gene sequences of the virus are then present can be determined by using fluorescent substances.
Who should be tested for Covid-19?
According to the national test strategy, people with symptoms and contact persons should be tested by people with confirmed corona infections. In addition, local authorities can order further tests in the event of outbreaks, for example in companies, schools or refugee shelters. Special rules apply to nursing homes and hospitals. For example, if someone has an operation, they should be tested upon arrival at the hospital.
How reliable is the corona test?
Experts around the world rate the genetic analyzes as “robust”. Usually they are done for other infectious diseases and evidence as well. Basically, the goal is to display reliable hits correctly and to exclude false hits. Possible sources of error can nevertheless lead to viruses being overlooked. The test result depends to a large extent on the type and time of sampling. In the first week of the disease, the viruses are usually only detectable in the throat and in the second week, on the other hand, often only in the lung secretions.
Are all countries testing the same?
It is known that countries test different frequencies. Approximate estimates or database results for tests that have already been carried out can be found on the “Worldometer” page (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries). According to this information, the numbers vary widely depending on the country. So far, averages of 70,100 tests per million inhabitants have been carried out in Germany (as of July 7, 2020). The Federal Republic is behind countries like Spain, the USA and Italy, but ahead of China and Turkey. Most of the tests have so far been carried out by Great Britain and Russia. In Brazil and India, comparatively little has been tested for Covid-19 to date. The data are based on the information provided by the health authorities of the federal states.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: does the health insurance company pay for the test for the virus?
Since June 10, 2020, according to the ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Health, people can also be tested if they have no symptoms. This now enables comprehensive tests in nursing homes, schools or day care centers if a Covid-19 case has occurred there. In nursing homes and care services, this is possible even without a confirmed infection. In principle, all patients who are admitted to hospitals should be tested. Either the attending physician or the public health department decides to have a test. The statutory health insurance companies cover the costs for the test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
How long do the Sars-CoV-2 viruses survive?
People who have been infected with the new type of coronavirus spread the virus around them by coughing and speaking. They stay in the air for about five minutes before sinking to the ground. According to a US laboratory study, the viruses can survive on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours. On paper, the Covid-19 viruses survive up to 24 hours.
How long will the new corona viruses survive in the apartment?
The stability of the coronavirus depends on various factors such as temperature, humidity and the nature of the surfaces as well as the amount of virus. Human coronaviruses are not very stable on dry surfaces. In the dry state, they are inactivated within hours to days. Current studies show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can remain infectious for up to three hours as an aerosol, up to four hours on copper surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on stainless steel and plastic after severe contamination. SARS-CoV-2 viruses are still infectious for several days on a metal surface even at elevated temperatures (30 ° C). However, drying the surface can lead to a significant decrease in infectivity within an hour.
Can the virus also be transmitted through objects?
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment states that there is no incriminating evidence of transmission of the virus through contact with contaminated objects or via contaminated surfaces. A subsequent infection in humans has not yet occurred in this way. However, smear infections from surfaces that have recently been contaminated with viruses cannot be ruled out.
Domestic quarantine – what should be considered?
The instructions of the doctor who ordered a home quarantine must be followed exactly. Any contact with other people should be avoided during the quarantine period (usually two weeks). This is particularly true when dealing with older people or people weakened by previous illnesses. You should not buy groceries and everyday items yourself, but rather have them delivered without personal contact if possible (park in front of the front door). Wearing a simple face mask can reduce the viral load in the area.
What should you watch out for in public transport?
The greatest possible distance should be kept to other passengers (at least 1.5 meters). If possible, use the low-traffic off-peak times. Travelers are required to wear a face mask. Eating and drinking, talking and telephoning and standing close together, face to face, should be avoided. You should only cough in the crook of your arm. Wash your hands thoroughly on arrival after touching the handlebars and door knobs.
What do employees have to consider?
Whenever possible, employees should offer their company the option of working from home. However, there is no legal right to work from home or, conversely, a legal obligation. Employees may refuse to work in areas with an increased risk of infection for which the Federal Foreign Office has issued an official travel warning. In the case of a mild upper respiratory illness, a telephone consultation with the family doctor is sufficient to receive a certificate of incapacity for work for up to seven days. If quarantine is necessary due to suspected Covid-19, the employer continues to pay wages or salaries and then receives a reimbursement of costs from the respective federal state.
What do employers have to consider?
For most areas of economic life, restrictions and bans apply in connection with the current threat from Covid-19. The Federal Ministry of Labor has set uniform occupational health and safety standards for working life in the current corona pandemic. Because according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, “the employer is fundamentally obliged to assess the risks to the safety and health of his employees at the workplace and to derive measures from this.” These include, for example, specific protective measures and comprehensive hygiene rules.
What do pet owners have to consider?
Cats, dogs, ferrets and golden hamsters can also be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Anyone who has a pet that has been infected with the virus must report this. So far, however, there is no evidence that the animals pass the disease on to their owners. There is no obligation to go to the vet in the event of suspicion. If a test is ordered by the veterinary office, the costs are covered. If the pet is tested voluntarily, the costs must be borne by yourself. In the event of an infection with Covid-19, the vet will report to the responsible veterinary office.
What supplies should you have at home?
The supply of food and everyday items is currently ensured. Stocking is therefore only useful in the normal context. Hamster purchases going beyond this even temporarily hinder the availability of certain goods.