Dr. Isobel Smith On Coronavirus

BREAKING NEWS: At 3:00 pm today The Australian Government has imposed a mandatory 14-day self-monitored quarantine for all international arrivals into Australia.

In order to get ahead of the curve and overload our public health system, the Australian Government has just announced that all people arriving in Australia for a minimum of 14 days. The aim is to slow the rate of infection and is within a matter of weeks instead of months.

See Australia's Prime Ministers Announcement Here - Full Video

In lieu of all the hype, misinformation and wayward conspiracy theories - our in house medical expert Dr. Izzy Smith talks straight about the facts surrounding Covid-19 in the following article.

What Is It Covid-19 ?

COVID-19 is a newly identified strain of virus belonging to a larger family of viruses called Corona Viruses.

Corona Viruses predominantly cause mild symptoms in animals but can occasionally be transmitted to humans and cause more severe disease. Previous examples of more severe strains have been SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) or MERs (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).

COVID-19 is thought to have originated from a wet market (where animal products are sold) in the Wuhan province of China. Prior to this, there had been no known human exposure to the virus which means our immune system isn’t able to recognise it and this is part of why it’s spreading so rapidly and causing so much harm.

How Does It Present?

COVID-19 causes respiratory symptoms from a mild runny nose, cough or sore throat to high fevers and severe pneumonia requiring artificial ventilation. The incubation period (from when you catch the virus to get symptoms) is about 7-10 days. For many people, the virus is quite mild for the first week, before developing more serious symptoms like pneumonia and respiratory failure around day 7.

The cause of this is still being investigated but it's likely related to a delayed immune response causing much of the damage. Most of the severe cases are occurring in older people (65+) and men seem to be at higher risk however young and otherwise totally well people have died from this virus. Thankfully there have been no recorded deaths in children; why children appear to be safe is still unclear and demonstrates how much we still need to learn about the virus.

Why is it so dangerous compared to other viruses?

What makes a virus (or any other infection) dangerous is dependent on two things;

  1. How rapidly it spreads

  2. The fatality rate of the virus

The fatality rate for COVID19 is about 2% (2 out of every 100 people who get it will die) which is actually is a much lower fatality than other strains of Corona (SARS 10% and MERS 30%) and only a little higher than influenza which is about 0.1%.

What appears to be making COVID-19 so dangerous, is how rapidly it spreads. Initially, it was thought that for each person infected they’d pass it to two other people, however with how quickly the virus is spreading that number is likely higher. The reason why it’s spreading so quickly is related to the virus being completely foreign to our immune systems and also because some people appear to contract the virus and not develop symptoms but are then still passing it on to others.

When we encounter viruses we’ve had previous exposure to, our immune system quickly recognises it as foreign and kills it before it can multiply (this is also how vaccines work). Whereas we have never been exposed to COVID19 before, nor do we have a vaccine for it and thus it quickly replicates and can be spread to others before our immune system can get on top of the infection.

When the virus was first discovered the goal of health authorities was to contain the virus through isolation which has worked with prior strains such as SARs and MERs.

Unfortunately, COVID19 appears to have spread too rapidly and the goal in many countries overseas is to delay the onset of infections in order for the health care system to handle the extra burden.

Are All The Events Being Cancelled Over-Kill?

A lot of people may be understandably disappointed that everything from sporting events, festivals to conferences are currently being cancelled and for want of a better word, feel it’s overkill. Although it may feel drastic, rapid and stringent action is the o

Being disappointed that you’re going to miss your favourite band or a sporting event you’ve worked hard for is totally understandable and not something you should feel guilty for. In times like these, it’s important to accept that some things are outside of our control and these measures wouldn’t be put in place unless they were 100% needed.

This uncertainty and degree of security won’t last forever and the more we put in place earlier, the quicker the virus can be contained and we can return to normal life.

Essentially that holiday can always happen another time but the lives of lost

loved ones aren’t something we can bring back next year.

What Can We Do?

When there is so much information coming from the media, Instagram to your well-meaning friends about how to prevent COVID19, no one would be to blame for feeling confused. However, this is where the simple measures and common sense are the most effective for keeping you, your loved ones and the greater community safe.

1. Sneeze Etiquette COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets e.g. from when we sneeze, breath, blow or rub our noses which is why staying home if we’re sick is so important as is sneezing into our elbow in the opposite direction of other people.

2. Keep Hands and Surfaces Clean

Wiping down surfaces, especially ones where lots of people have been e.g. gym equipment, yoga classes, restaurants with alcohol type wipes is also an important measure to decrease the risk of transmission (remember if someone with the virus breaths on something the virus can last there for several hours).

3. Stop Touching Your Mouth, Eyes and Nose Until you take notice of it, you would not believe how often you touch your face/mouth/nose without even realising. Our hands and faces/mouth are where germs are spread the most. By having less contact between them, we decrease the risk of both catching and transmitting the virus.

4. Avoid Crowded Spaces For many of us, this is somewhat impossible e.g. workplaces but aim to avoid crowded spaces unnecessarily e.g. shopping at big centres or going to concerts etc. This may mean missing some fun things but is an important step in trying to contain or at least delay the spread of the virus. This information is especially important to those at higher risk of serious complications (elderly or immunocompromised) and they may benefit from trying to work from home and avoiding public transport and other similarly crowded spaces entirely.

5. Stay Home If You’re Sick

There has never been a better time to not be a work martyr and carry on when you’re sick. Even if you have a slight snuffle or sore throat you should stay home and seek medical advice on if you need to be tested for COVID19 or not.

6. Look After Yourself

Being healthy isn’t rocket science. Maintaining healthy behaviours should be important all the time and not just in a pandemic. These include getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night, eating a varied diet high in fruit and vegetables, not smoking and limiting alcohol, staying hydrated and doing regular exercise as well as making sure you’re up to date with vaccinations.

Things which won’t help;

  1. Buying Every Possible Immune Supplement/Tonic/Superfood. Although our immune system needs things like vitamin C and Zinc, these or any other specific f