You may have noticed some of the hype surrounding the Coronavirus lately. While there is a lot of information, and misinformation, out there, you might be wondering how worried should you be – the truth is, not that worried if you take proper hygiene precautions.
Officials currently believe that the Coronavirus spreads primarily through water droplets expelled by a carrier of the virus. It is also possible that touching a surface that contains the virus and then touching your eyes or mouth may cause you to contract the virus, though this is a less likely pathway (CDC, 2020).
That said, the virus is believed to survive several hours on surfaces such as plastics or metals. It is best to limit what you touch while out, and to wash your hands often and immediately upon returning home.
One of the most important things in staying safe is being able to properly identify the illness. As a blanket statement, if you are sick at all, then please stay home until you are 100% better.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) comes with mild symptoms to start. The incubation period (without symptoms) can be up to 14 days, and then will start as a Fever, Cough, and Shortness of Breath. If you have any other symptoms, including sore throat, chills, headaches, vomiting, or diarrhea, you likely do not have coronavirus and have something else. There have been no cases of coronavirus with runny noses.
Severe presentations of the illness are not likely in those who are generally healthy. A pre-existing condition is usually present when the disease progresses to more severe states and requires medical intervention. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, many people in this category had an underlying condition of dampness or damp-heat.
If you have any signs or suspicion that you would test positive for the coronavirus, then please stay home and call your primary care physician for the most up-to-date information and protocols.
Risk Factors Vary
Depending on your general health level, where you live, and connections to travel. The average healthy adult has little to worry about.
Those with weak immune systems, elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions, are at greater risk when coming into contact with the COVID-19 virus. This is because their bodies have fewer resources to fight off an incoming attack. In Chinese medicine, this is known as a deficiency of “defensive qi” (wei qi in Chinese) in relation to the “evil qi” attacking.
Fortunately, the coronavirus has largely left children alone. So don’t fear parents, your kids are most likely safe!
Risk is also higher if you live near major entry points of the US. This map shows all the confirmed infections, and tracks percentages of deaths and recovery as well. You can see that most US cases exist in California, a couple data points near Chicago and Boston. Also, those of us who travel less have a lower chance of connecting with someone infected with the coronavirus.
Finally, if you are someone who travels, especially by plane, the risk goes up, though maybe not for the reasons you think. It turns out, the filters on planes are pretty good, and airflow in the cabin is typically contained within a few rows of your seat (Mangili, Vindenes, & Gendreau, 2015). But, even with the best airflow technology, that still allows for the spread of a virus, and the study found many factors can influence transmission in flight.
Travelers also simply come into contact with more people, and the CDC believes transmission of the coronavirus can take place within 6 feet of an infected person (2020). So, if you are a traveler, make sure to take basic precautions and do something to boost your immune system when you are out.
Don’t worry though, it’s still not time to panic. Even as the virus does begin to spread within the US, you are likely to fall into a low-risk category. Good hygiene behaviors such as handwashing with soap and water for 30 seconds and covering your mouth with your elbow should be sufficient. Particularly if you live in densely populated areas.
Hand sanitizer is a good alternative if you do not have immediate access to soap and water, just make sure it is alcohol-based. And, once you do have access to proper hand-washing, take advantage of it as soon as possible.
It is also a good idea to take the time to wipe off frequently used items or surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Since the virus can live on surfaces, this is a good preventative.
Face masks are not recommended at this time. They can be helpful if they are N95 grade, are most helpful for healthcare workers that might come into direct contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus.
If you are worried about your immune system, start working to improve it now (before the coronavirus is in your backyard). There are ample solutions to boosting your immune system naturally & at home, including elderberry syrup, garlic, oregano oil, vitamin C, etc.
Chinese herbal therapy can be an excellent way to improve your body’s ability to fight off viruses. Moxa is also a great at-home procedure your acupuncturist can show you how to do (on the point ST-36). And Acupuncture treatments can also help to regulate the immune response.
And, if you suspect there may be community spread of the coronavirus in your area, then take the opportunity to spend some time at home. After all, you can’t contract an illness you don’t come into contact with!
If You Suspect You Might Be Sick
First and foremost, contact your local health officials immediately (by phone) and self-isolate. Just staying at home and limiting contact with family members or housemates can limit the spread of the virus. And resting allows your body to focus its attention on defeating the illness.
Chinese medicine has been at the forefront of treating this illness in China, and has made some great headway. Coronavirus is a rare presentation for an “external pathogen” known as “Damp-Toxin” (Hubei Province Integrated Chinese\Western Medicine Hospital, 2020) that must be addressed appropriately to prevent complications.
There are some excellent herbal formulas to help combat this and prevent any major complications. A few examples are:
- Yu Ping Feng San
- Yin Qiao San
- Sheng Mai San
The best formula for you depends on many factors including your underlying constitution. Some people already have a lot of dampness in their bodies, while others have very little. It is important to consult with a TCM trained herbalist to ensure the proper formula is used in your case.
It is also a good idea to continue any methods of immune-boosting that you have available. Ensure you are getting adequate nutrition and plenty of fluids. And, of course, rest!
CDC. (2020, February 17). Transmission of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
CDC. (2020, February 12). Frequently Asked Questions About Respirators and Their Use. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-use-faq.html
Hubei Province Integrated Chinese\Western Medicine Hospital. (2020). Critical Viral Respiratory Disease Formulas.
Johns Hopkins. (2020). Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE. Retrieved February 28, 2020, from https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2EfQ8g_UyCKgUUuOcPDcg_nLGKXVJMNAWCE8vhMUquhVKoZsP2hlLP62M#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6
Mangili, A., Vindenes, T., & Gendreau, M. (2015). Infectious Risks of Air Travel. Microbiology Spectrum, 3(5). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.iol5-0009-2015
Saul, A. W. (2020, January 26). Vitamin C Protects Against Coronavirus. Retrieved from http://orthomolecular.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=9b8619251a19057cff70779273e95aa6.134&fbclid=IwAR1TPlXP5W2r1aSxfAJR0JAdxoN3ryVd9ZeyRVydS5w3aRvCvT2i5-x3WkI