Declared as a pandemic, Coronavirus Infectious Disease 2019 (or COVID-19) is all over the news. Social distancing has been in practice in most countries to slow down the spread of this contagious disease but what about those working in the front lines (Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals). All these individuals are risking their lives and health to protect us, and we should be grateful. If you are a medical health worker, you can easily relate.
So, What is Covid-2019?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a new virus that had not been previously identified in humans. It is related to SARS and MERS coronaviruses. The current virus is believed to have started in an outdoor market in Wuhan, China. The virus transmitted from person to person and spread globally including the US.
The virus causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as dry cough, fever and in more severe cases, pneumonia.
Cases have been confirmed in all 50 states including California, Newyork, and Washington. The first death within the US was reported in Washington at the end of February.
What Is Being Done?
There is currently no effective vaccine or medication to prevent or treat COVID-2019. The US government has issued a set of guidelines to slow down the spread of the virus. Travel restrictions have been imposed and most cruise ships have been banned. The CDC is providing the test kits for public health laboratories to perform real-time RT-polymerase chain reaction detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19) in respiratory specimens. The clinical and commercial laboratories can get access to testing supplies through the FDA.
What Role Can You Play as a Nurse?
1. Do not Panic:
First and foremost, do not panic. You are on the front line and people look up to you in these emergency situations so be strong and be prepared. Make sure you wear a mask when treating or coming near to COVID-19 patients. Wash your hands with soap and water, sanitize your surroundings and follow all protocols issued by CDC and your medical facility.
2. Get a Flu Shot:
A weak immune system is more prone to catching this virus. If you have not already, this is the right time to get your flu shot. Take immune boosters and keep yourself hydrated.
3. Avoid Unnecessary Traveling:
Try to limit your travel as much as possible and avoid traveling to high-risk areas. A Global Level 3 Health Advisory is in effect. The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19.
4. Practice Social Distancing Whenever You Can:
To stop the spreading of COVID-19, USA and other countries have been urging its people to practice social distancing and self-quarantine.
Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Avoiding crowds, canceling social events, switching to online classes and working from home instead of at the office are some examples of social distancing.
Being a nurse, you don’t have the privilege of working from home. However, you can practice social distancing in other ways, such as avoiding public gatherings, visiting your loved ones virtually rather than in-person and taking continuing education courses online when necessary.
5. Know the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19:
The initial symptoms of COVID-19 include dry cough, fever, and shortness of breathe which are typically observed 2-14 days following exposure to the virus.
Ask all patients, especially those exhibiting the above symptoms, about any recent travel- either personal or direct family members/close contacts.
6. Be Prepared:
Make sure that you have sufficient food, medical supplies, pet supplies, personal care items, infant supplies, medications, etc. to last you and your immediate family in case of voluntary quarantine. Get adequate sleep/rest, keep yourself hydrated and try to limit stress as much as possible.
7. Keep Yourself Updated:
Visit cdc.gov and click on COVID-19 for the latest information and updates.