Since last Wednesday March 18, 2020, I have been working at home because we are obliged to observe social distancing. Schools and public places like libraries, parks, public pools, etcetera have been closed as well. Everyone has been obliged to stay home except those who are working in essential and health services. To keep our families safe, it is so important that we have to learn how to prevent COVID-19.
Our children with special needs could be one of those who are vulnerable if they are still young or have some co-morbidities, like heart problems and other congenital diseases.
Nowadays, our lives have turned around because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new corona virus infection has spread globally and as of today March 22, 2020, according to data from Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, confirmed cases have totalled to 316,000 with 13,592 confirmed deaths and 185 countries, areas or territories have reported cases.
China, where it all originated has the highest reported cases at 81,416 with total deaths at 3,261.
Italy is second for positive cases at 53,000 but highest reported deaths at 4,825.
Spain is third at 28,572 positive cases and total deaths at 1,720.00
Unites States comes fourth for positive cases at 27,004. At least 249 deaths were reported on March 20th.
Well good news is that more than 93,000 people worldwide have recovered.
For daily updates read from the World Health Organization website-click here.
COVID-19 is scary and is a serious concern for everyone!
This has affected every area of our daily lives from our jobs, schools, travel, activities, food and grocery shopping, and a lot more.
Of course we need to understand what this pandemic is all about.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered corona virus, which was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019.
It is one of the Corona viruses which causes common colds and the more severe illnesses previously identified, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ( SARS-CoV ) first reported in 2003 in Guangdong Province in southern China and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ( MERS-CoV ), which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Although there have been so many deaths reported with these two virus infections and global spread as well but lesser, considered only as epidemics, unlike this COVID-19 which is now pandemic.
Incubation period for COVID-19 is 1-14 days, which means that if you are exposed, it will take 1-14 days for you to present with symptoms. Thus, if you have traveled somewhere, you are advised to isolate yourself for 14 days before returning to work or seeing other people.
How is COVID-19 transmitted?
COVID-19 is transmitted by droplet infection. If somebody who is affected sneezes or coughs without cover, the droplet can lodge in any surface for sometime and if somebody touches that surface, and in turn touches their nose, mouth or eyes, he can be infected.
Breathing in of the droplet when the sick person coughs or sneezes in front of you could also be one of the ways that you can get sick. Thus, stay away from a sick person for at least 2 meters or six feet.
A study done by researchers from the National Institute of Health, the CDC, and UCLA confirmed that COVID-19 can spread on surfaces. The researchers found that COVID-19 can survive with enough “viable virus” on plastic for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
Thus our kids’ toys and educational materials including books need to be disinfected.
COVID-19 has also been found to survive on steel for up to 48 hours, and on copper for up to four hours.
Best to clean your electronics including your cellphones, and to wash your hands after opening up packages.
The COVID-19 has been spreading exponentially.
The World Health Organization states, “It took over three months to reach the first 10,000 confirmed cases, and only 12 days to reach the next 100,000.”
Thus, it is really important to observe social distancing.
Who can get infected?
Practically everyone can have the infection. Some maybe asymptomatic and some will have symptoms. The most vulnerable are the elderly, those with co-morbidities, like hypertension, diabetes, heart problems, cancer, and the children.
Although affected children is only a small percentage, a new study from China has shown that kids can become very ill if affected. The most vulnerable in kids are the infants. There has been one death in China of a 14 year old.
Our special kids especially the non-verbal ones, usually cannot express how they feel, and this makes them more vulnerable as well. Your observations as special needs parents are so important and timely for proper management if they get infected.
Related post: What to do when your Sick Special Child is so Irritable
Safe to say that most people who die are in the age range of 70 years old and above, but bear in mind that any age can get the virus. If you get infected, it is really important to isolate and observe social distancing so spread can be stopped.
In the early days people have been so complacent that many people still went for their holidays and attended big gatherings and never isolated themselves, thus the rapid spread globally.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Of those who get infected, around 80 percent will have mild symptoms and will recover in the comforts of their homes.
Since it is spread as a droplet infection, the virus goes to the lungs and cause respiratory symptoms. It usually starts just like the regular flu with body weakness or tiredness, fever, and dry cough. Other symptoms include aches and pains, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea.
Adults who have been affected initially report headaches, body pains, shortness of breath and very dry and sore throat.
One in 6 infected adults becomes gravely ill and will have continuous fever and difficulty of breathing, thus develop pneumonia, fluid in the lungs, or multi-organ failure, which are usually the causes of death.
Commonly affected are the older people with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
This is the time when they need to go to the emergency without fail!
What to do if you have symptoms
When you develop symptoms or any of your kids at home, including your special child, go call your doctor or find out as early as now that nobody is symptomatic yet, what number to call so you know where to go to get tested. Usually, there are test centres outside of the hospital because they accept only those with moderate to severe cases to be admitted and treated.
Some places like South Korea and now the United States and Canada have drive-through areas where you can go for tests. You don’t even have to get out of your car, how cool is that?
Get yourself tested right away if you have symptoms and isolate yourself, even from your family.
You can recover at home if your symptoms are mild. And you are lucky if you are!
Otherwise, run to the emergency or ask somebody to bring you or call the ambulance when you feel you have difficulty breathing and having high fever. At this time, it could be life-threatening and should not be ignored.
For small kids, including your non-verbal special child, this could show as bluish lips, very fast or deep breathing and rising of their chest, groaning, or unable to talk in sentences if they are verbal.
How can our families be protected especially our special needs kids?
Social distancing comes in very vital to limit the spread of COVID-19.
It involves deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spread of any illness.
We are all advised to do the following:
1. Avoid crowds and public places. It makes sense that schools have been closed as well as daycares, masses are canceled, social gatherings and meetings are prohibited, as well.
2. Have a distance of at least 6 feet or 2 meters with other people, especially those who are sick with coughing or sneezing. Practice this even when you are shopping in grocery stores.
3. Self-isolate for 14 days after you arrive from travel, including cruising.
4. Avoid touching other people, including handshakes and hugs.
Other important measures to follow to prevent spread of COVID-19:
1. Wash hands as often as you can. You might need to wash the hands of your special needs kids if they can’t follow your instructions.
2. If unable to wash your hands, use the sanitizer if your hands are not visibly dirty.
3. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes with your hands.
Prevent COVID-19 Handwashing techniques click here.
4. Sneeze or cough into your sleeves or a tissue paper and throw it away immediately.
5. Wear masks if you have symptoms, you are in the frontline caring for those who are sick, or exposed to somebody with symptoms.
6. Don’t visit your older relatives, like grandparents because they are vulnerable especially if they have other medical conditions. Just call them everyday to check on them. If they need groceries, buy for them online and let them be delivered.
How to easily understand the COVID-19 Pandemic ( It all makes sense ! )
Now we learn why we need quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing and washing our hands frequently, among other things!
We need to reverse this COVID-19 fast pandemic to slow pandemic and it is possible!
Is there treatment for COVID-19?
There is no definitive treatment for this infection. No antibiotics can cure COVID-19. It is a viral infection and treatments are only supportive.
Paracetamol or Acetaminophen for fever, rest and sleep, lots of water, fruits, Vitamin C are suggested and hospitalization with oxygen or ventilator support for those affected by severe pneumonia.
Isolation is very important to prevent spread.
Prevention is vital, thus practice social distancing all the time!
Is a vaccine or a drug available for COVID-19?
From the start of discovery of COVID-19, several scientists in their laboratories all over the world have tried to discover the genome sequence of the possible vaccine which hopefully could prevent the occurrence of COVID-19 in the future.
The scientists in collaboration with Pharmaceuticals have developed experimental vaccines that utilize genetic engineering to harness cells to produce pieces of the virus that are recognized by the immune system.
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle , USA is in Phase I to create a vaccine that is safe and able to elicit the desired results from a person’s immune system.
First 45 volunteers for the experimental COVID-19 vaccine have been injected the experimental vaccine on March 16, 2020, and the scientists will be observing them for 6 weeks.
The volunteers ranged from ages 18 to 55, including tech company operations manager Jennifer Haller who is the first study participant.
Concerning side-effects will be monitored and this will guide them for larger trials this year that will assess its efficacy.
It is expected to take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.
Other laboratory facilities and Pharmaceuticals in the US, Canada, China, Australia, Europe, UK and Korea likewise have their experiments and plan to test their vaccines and a drug named Remdesivir in the near future.
There are no solid data as of now to confirm whether the drug Remdesivir, which have been given to some COVID-19 patients is effective or not. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial still needs to be done to determine if this experimental drug has clinical benefits to COVID-19 patients.
Protection from COVID-19 is the best way to face this pandemic!
Practice isolation- stay in your homes as much as possible so you don’t catch the virus and if you have it with only mild symptoms, stay away from people so you don’t spread the illness.
The most effective way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 is to always wash your hands, cover your cough with the bend of your elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
Use masks only if you are ill with cough or sneezing, exposed to somebody with positive COVID-19 or taking care of somebody who is infected.
Avoid shortage of masks by using them if not needed because only healthcare people need to use them and during the circumstances mentioned above.
Now is the best time to take care of ourselves and our families including our special needs kids.
Let us follow what the government is telling us and our health authorities.
Check out the Global updates from the World Health Organization website- click here!
And PRAY because our GOD is greater than the COVID-19 and He will restore everything soon!
How are you and your family coping with the COVID-19 pandemic? Has anybody been infected in your family and how was it managed? Share your experiences and let us learn from each other.