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COVID-19 numbers, statistics and misconceptions

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With over 2 million deaths globally, COVID-19 is no longer a small threat to the global economy and everyone has a responsibility to ensure their won safety and the safety of their loved ones.

According to António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, “Our world has reached a heart-wrenching milestone:  the COVID-19 pandemic has now claimed two million lives.

Behind this staggering number are names and faces:  the smile now only a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table, the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one.

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Sadly, according to Guterres, the deadly impact of the pandemic has been made worse by the absence of a global coordinated effort.

Globally,  there have been 108,579,352 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2,396,408 deaths, reported to WHO by mid February 2021. The Americas had 48,401,821 confirmed cases, Europe had 36,668,163
confirmed cases, South-East Asia had 13,215,160 confirmed cases. Eastern Mediterranean had 6,023,779 confirmed cases while Africa had 2,732,136
confirmed cases and Western Pacific had 1,537,548 confirmed cases according to the World Health Organization.

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In Kenya, from Jan 3 to mid-February 2021, there have been 102,867 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,795 deaths. These are not just numbers but people with names, faces and families, and friends. These were once a source of hope and inspiration to their families and nations and now they are long gone.

As the UN, multinational agencies and governments roll out COVID-19 vaccines, there is no wrong time for the media to educate and inform the masses about COVID-19 despite the fact that we are a year into the pandemic. It’s never too late to educate, inform and warn people of what this pandemic is capable of.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are common in animals but occasionally, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.

To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.

Some of the most common symptoms include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Some people become infected but remain asymptomatic. About 80% of the infected recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household workplace, or health care centre.

The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak.

Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

What do you need to do to protect yourself and others from getting the infection?

  • Wash hands often,
  • Keep away from people who are sick
  • Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands immediately.
  • Report fever, cough and shortness of breath to the nearest health facility
  • You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions such as regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing because when someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth to reduce chances of transmitting the virus to yourself.

Misconceptions on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):

Misconception #1: You can protect yourself from COVID-19 by swallowing or gargling bleach, taking acetic acid or steroids, or using essential oils, salt water, ethanol or other substances.

Fact: None of these substances can protect you from getting COVID-19, and some may be harmful to your health.

Misconception #2: The new coronavirus was created as a biological weapon and deliberately released.

Fact: COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus disease that is now being transmitted from human to human.

Misconception #3: Importing products from countries reporting COVID-19 outbreaks will transmit the disease.

Fact: Coronavirus cannot survive outside the human body for more than 24hours. It is very unlikely that the virus will survive on a surface after being exposed to different conditions and temperatures.

Misconception #4: You can get Coronavirus from pets”

Fact: According to the WHO, there’s no evidence that household pets will pass on coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria.

Misconception #5: Drinking Alcohol Will Protect You from Coronavirus Fact: Drinking alcohol does not kill viruses that have already entered your body. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitiser or washing them with soap and running water.

Misconception #6: Coronavirus does not affect black people

Fact: All human beings are at risk of contracting Coronavirus

Misconception #7: Coronavirus only affects older people

Fact: People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus.

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Milcah Lukhanyu
Milcah Lukhanyu
I cover tech news across Africa. Drop me an email at [email protected]

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