Tales of COVID-19 are all over the media but how many people understand the terminologies being thrown around when these news reports are broadcasted? The novel coronavirus, identified as SARS CoV-2, is a new strain from the coronavirus family. The coronavirus family is responsible for illnesses from common cold to severe acute respiratory infections (SARS and MERS). When someone gets sick with this new strain of coronavirus, the disease is called COVID-19.
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If you aren’t aware of the implication of the terms associated with COVID-19, here is a run down to keep you in the know:
Social or physical distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection control action intended to stop or slow down the spread of contagious diseases. People who have not been exposed to the virus are usually advised to practise social distancing. It involves avoiding crowds or events with more than 50 people. This means cancelling any unnecessary meetings/gatherings/plans and limiting interaction to just a few persons. You can do this by working from home, relying on the internet for social communication, shopping in less crowded markets, and standing at about 1.5 meters from the next person in public. It doesn’t mean you can’t still socialize with people, it just means doing so at a safe distance.
Quarantine is a restriction – upon activities, communication of persons or transport of goods – designed to prevent the spread of diseases or pests. This enforced isolation from normal relations or communications is for people who have been exposed to the virus and don’t have any symptoms yet. It is done for about 14 -21 days minimum and it involves no direct contact with any individual. It involves staying in a room alone (especially if you live with others in the same house). You can have friends/family/delivery services drop off supplies but don’t touch or talk to them directly. Maintain at least a six foot distance from them, no face-to-face contact. If it is not an emergency, you don’t have to leave your house. You can also rely on social media, SMS, and phone calls to communicate with others.
Self-isolating is the act of separating oneself from others. For people who think they have the virus or have tested positive for the virus, they are to self-isolate for at least 7 days from the beginning of the symptoms. Self isolation also involves no direct contact with any individual, and all the quarantine measures listed above.
A lockdown is an emergency protocol that temporarily prevents people from leaving a restricted area during the threat of danger. It plays a role in protecting people from a threatening external event. A full lockdown means people are to stay where they are or seek shelter in the nearest safe/enclosed room. It involves enforcing curfews to limit movement and activities within community on a large scale. During a lockdown only essential or basic services can function like food markets/groceries stores, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. That means there would be closure of non-essential businesses such as restaurants, cinemas, schools, offices, resorts, lounges, plazas, and parks.
A travel ban is an executive order issued by the president of a country, in order to protect its citizens for a specific period. This travel restriction – which includes border closures, suspension of non-essential travels and halting of visa issuance – is placed on countries and individuals with respect to travelling in or out of the country.
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This is the first identified case in a group of related cases of a particular communicable or heritable disease. It is the first documented patient in a disease epidemic within a population, and the first disease case brought to the attention of an epidemiologist. This first patient is usually referred to as patient zero (0) while the first disease case in the population is the primary case.
An imported case is when an infected traveller arrives in a country thereby increasing the number of cases within the country. The passengers and port authorities become at risk of being exposed to the disease through shared spaces or via contact with them. Thus, it leads to community spread or local transmission.
Contact tracing is a process used to understand how an infectious disease is spreading in a community. This is when people who have been exposed to carriers are being tracked down, contacted and monitored by health officials to see if they manifest any symptoms. Contact tracing has two purposes: to figure out who a sick person caught an illness from, and to find out who they’ve been in contact with while infectious.
This is also known as local transmission. This is when someone without a recent travel history comes in contact with an infected person. It starts with contact with someone who has recently travelled and spreads to others with no travel history or association with an imported case.
It is important to note that the government is already monitoring over 1,300 persons besides our active cases of COVID-19. It behoves you to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe.
Featured image source: Medscape
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