As outdoor enthusiasts, most climbers, mountaineers and like-minded people tend to travel significantly. As cases for the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) increase, it’s important to understand how this virus spreads and what you can do to prevent contracting it and safeguarding against its continued spread.
Coronavirus nCoV began creating some levels of panic around the world in early January. It’s important to understand this specific disease in order to safeguard against it during traveling and regular day-to-day living. Here’s everything you need to know about Coronavirus nCoV, now known as COVID 2019.
From nCoV to COVID 2019
Previous to February 2020, the Coronavirus we know today as the cause of amassed cases of infections was known as Coronavirus nCoV. The virus originated in Wuhan, China; through traveling persons, the disease quickly spread to other countries. On 11 February 2020, the World Health Organization made the determination to officially rename the virus “Coronavirus Disease 2019”, abbreviated as COVID 2019 or COVID-19 (CO=Corona, VI=Virus, D=Disease, 2019=Year of Origin).
COVID-19 is known as a serious virus, which is contracted via contact with others who have the virus, either by airborne discharge (coughing, sneezing, breathing) or through touching surfaces or people contaminated with the virus. COVID-19 presents symptoms approximately 2-14 days after exposure.
How COVID Originated
Originally introduced in Wuhan, China, officials believe COVID-19 was transmitted to humans through an intermediary animal. The South China Agricultural University published a press release stating their belief that pangolins were likely a source. China has increasingly been criticized for its consumption of pangolins and facilitating the poaching of this animal, which is facing extinction.
The Lancet published a journal article which concluded that bats were also a likely source of COVID-19.
The first cases of COVID-19 occurred in individuals who shopped at or worked in wholesale food markets. It’s believed the virus was transmitted through a slaughtered animal these individuals had direct contact with. At this time, it is not believed that the virus is spread via shipments of goods or food from China.
How COVID-19 Spreads
Traveling from China, or coming into contact with contaminated persons traveling from China, was the initial method for how COVID-19 spread. With the virus currently present in over 89 countries, it is spreading through direct, close contact with others who have the virus, whether or not these individuals have been to China recently. Close contact is defined as within six-feet (1.8 m) or less.
According to the CDC, the virus is most likely to be transmitted by individuals when they are most symptomatic. However, it has been reported to spread from people who aren’t exhibiting symptoms in rarer cases.
How COVID-19 is Transmitted
As mentioned, COVID-19 is transmitted via one of three ways:
- Person-to-person contact – the virus can be transmitted by touching others, who are infected. Through this method, transmission occurs when the healthy individual then touches their eyes, nose or mouth, introducing the virus into their body via mucus glands or bodily fluids.
- Contaminated surfaces – the virus can also be transmitted by touching surfaces that have been touched by infected persons and left the virus behind on them.
- Airborne transmission – the virus can be transmitted through respiratory particulates/droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Through this method of transmission, droplets released can land in the mouths or noses of others who are in the immediate vicinity, about six-feet. These particles can also be inhaled into the lungs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) details why it’s important to avoid close contact with sick persons in the video below:
Symptoms and Treatment for Coronavirus Disease 2019
The known symptoms for COVID-19 are:
- Respiratory difficulty
In this case, the respiratory difficulty is defined as having difficulty breathing, catching your breath, taking and holding deep breaths and the overall feeling of weak lung function. Below, the World Health Organization describes symptoms in this video:
Authorities have warned that if you have recently traveled from China and experience any of these symptoms within 14-days of travel, you should contact a healthcare professional who will assist you in observing the proper procedural actions to identify these symptoms, and contact the correct authorities for further testing and, if possible, quarantine.
Since this virus has spread to many nations already, authorities are also urging anyone who has traveled via highly public areas such as ships, airplanes, trains or bus terminals to also do the same.
Treatment for COVID-19
There is NO known treatment for COVID-19. There is no cure either. Healthcare professionals can only provide supportive care to relieve symptoms and manage vital organ function.
It is important to note the way this virus affects the human body. It is similar to a bad cold or flu. There is no way to cure a cold or a flu virus, however, under normal circumstances, you’d take the common course of managing your symptoms using OTC cold and flu medications, right? Healthcare professionals are doing the same, only with more sophisticated methods.
How to Safeguard Against Covid-19
As there is no treatment or cure, the best way to safeguard against COVID-19 is prevention.
- If you are sick, wear a mask in public or try to stay home. If your office allows working from home, try this option.
- Avoid close contact with others and remain at least 6 feet (1.8 m) away from them.
- Use disinfectant sprays or wipes to clean commonly touched household surfaces.
- Avoid touching your mouth, lips, nose and eyes with your hands.
- Use tissues to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- Carry hand sanitizer, and use it whenever you are in public after touching objects or surfaces. Use any available disinfectant wipes in public places to wipe eating surfaces or shopping carts.
- Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds or longer with soap and water after using the bathroom, before you eat, and after coughing and sneezing.
- If you are a healthcare worker in contact with elderly patients or in a hospital setting, use a facemask. Facemasks are not necessary for individuals who are not sick according to the US CDC.
In this video, the World Health Organization talks more about prevention:
How to Self-Quarantine
There is no need to panic. In fact, there is no need to fear quarantine either. Many states are imposing self-quarantine policies whereby those who may have been affected by the virus can quarantine themselves at home. You should make sure you have everything you need in order to do this if the need arises.
What You Need to Have
First thing’s first, if you need to self-quarantine, you won’t be allowed to leave the house unless it’s to see a doctor. Yes, we know that for adventure-minded people, this is the worst. Therefore, you need to have all of your basic necessities in-home already. Stock up on the following:
- Paper products – toilet paper, paper towel, napkins, tissues
- Grooming – shampoo, body wash, antibacterial hand soap, toothpaste, mouthwash
- Beauty – hair styling pomades/gels, lotions, face creams, moisturizers
Panic sometimes causes populations to overreact, as such, there are many cities that have empty shelves where cleaning supplies and disinfectants should be. So if you’re in an area that still has some, make sure you get what you need now. You will want to buy products that are labeled “kills viruses”. According to the CDC and the Center for Biocide Chemistries, the list of approved disinfectant products include Purell, Clorox and Lysol. Make sure you have:
- Disinfectant spray cleaners – for kitchens, for bathrooms, hard surfaces
- Antibacterial/antiviral soaps – dish soap, hand soaps, laundry sanitizers
- Spray disinfectants – hard surface disinfectants, fabric disinfectants
- Hand sanitizers
- Disinfectant floor cleaners
- Disinfectant wipes
It is not advised to order food to limit contact with others, therefore, you will need a plan in place for long-term cooking. Buy foods that are non-perishable and store well in conjunction with your fresh produce.
- Rice, oats, flour, beans, instant mashed potatoes, pasta
- Canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned meats/tuna
- Frozen meats, fish, vegetables
- Bottled water, juices (sports drinks like Gatorade help with hydration)
- Preserves, jams, peanut butter
OTC & Prescription Medicine
- Chest rubs, creams and patches
- Cold and Flu medicines (Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe, Nyquil Severe Cough, Cold & Flu, Alka-Seltzer Plus)
- Cough drops – (Ricola, Vicks VapoCool, Halls)
- Refill all prescription medications
What to Do
- Wash your laundry to have a nice stock of fresh sheets and clothing.
- Work on meal charts to help you organize breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the family.
- Disinfect doorknobs, toilets, handles, remotes, and surfaces regularly.
- Wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- If you are exhibiting symptoms, remain in a separate room and avoid contact with others and pets. The virus has at least one known case of human-to-canine transmission.
- Use a tissue to cough/sneeze.
- After walking pets or getting the mail, disinfect leashes and doorknobs again. Wash your hands.
What Not To Do
- Do not panic.
- Do not share towels.
- Do not share cups, or eat off of others’ utensils.
- Do not invite friends over.
- Do not order takeout.
- Avoid using cash where possible, some reports have shown cash can be carrier materials for COVID-19. Instead, purchase items electronically or use debit/credit/gift cards. Either way, WHO urges people to wash their hands after handling cash, phones and credit/debit cards.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Climbers and mountaineers are some of the most well-traveled people in the world. If you are expecting to travel, be cautious and avoid contact with individuals. This is not to say you can’t partake in social activities, but be mindful of touching, airborne particles and touching objects that are known to have heavy human traffic.
Invest in travel insurance, some insurance companies have options available for extraction in the event you fall ill. It’s also a good idea to insure all of your travel plans in the event your trip needs to be canceled.
Many countries have implemented quarantine and isolation policies, including Italy. The United States issued a limited travel ban for travelers coming from Europe, and Nepal recently closed access to Mount Everest for the 2020 spring season. Across the world, governments are enacting cancelations of mass attendance events and sports leagues are also either canceling their seasons or proceeding with non-spectator games. So keep this in mind, as well, for your travel plans.
The World Health Organization answered common travel questions for travelers concerned about COVID-19 in this video:
The progression of COVID 2019 is ongoing and the information will be updated as such. For now, remember to avoid travel to China unless absolutely necessary. Avoid panic, as the situation is currently under control.
Check these sites regularly as they are updated frequently with new information. Get your information from trusted sources like the CDC, state health sites and the World Health Organization.
Regularly Updated Advisories
- CDC Coronavirus Central Page
- CDC COVID-19 Situation Summary
- World Health Organization Daily Situation Report
- World Health Organization Daily Briefings and Press Conferences
- CDC COVID-19 United States Situation Summary
- CDC Updated Global Cases Map
- World Health Organization COVID-19 Central
General Resource Sites
- World Health Organization COVID-19 Myth Busters
- CDC Travel FAQ
- CDC Transmission Info Page
- CDC Travel Advisories and Resources
- Prevention: At Home, Schools, Workplace, Public Gatherings…
For Healthcare Professionals
Coronavirus Sites for UK, Australia, Canada
- United Kingdom Department of Health and Social Care
- Australian Government Department of Health
- Health Canada
US State Health Agency Coronavirus Central Pages
- Alabama Department of Public Health
- Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
- Arizona Department of Health Services
- Arkansas Department of Health
- California Department of Public Health
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Connecticut Department of Health
- Delaware Health and Social Services
- Florida Department of Health
- Georgia Department of Public Health
- Hawaii State Department of Health
- Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
- Ilinois Department of Public Health (COVID-19 Hotlines 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV)
- Indiana State Department of Health
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Kansas Department of Health and Environment
- Kentucky Department of Public Health
- Louisiana Department of Health
- Maine Department of Health and Human Services
- Maryland Department of Health
- Massachusettes Department of Public Health
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
- Minnesota Department of Health
- Mississippi State Department of Health
- Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
- Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
- Nebraska Department of Public Health and Human Services
- Nevada Department of Public Health and Human Services
- New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
- New Jersey Department of Health (COVID-19 Hotlines 1-800-222-1222 or 1-800-962-1253 for Out-Of-State)
- New Mexico Department of Health
- New York State Department of Health
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
- North Dakota Department of Health
- Ohio Department of Health
- Oklahoma State Department of Health (COVID-19 Hotline 1-877-215-8336)
- Oregon Health Authority (or call 211)
- Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Rhode Island Department of Health
- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
- South Dakota Department of Health
- Tennesse Department of Health
- Texas Department of Health Services
- Utah Department of Health
- Vermont Department of Health
- Virginia Department of Health
- Washington State Department of Health
- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Wyoming Department of Health