Under normal circumstances at this time of year, people would be thinking about upcoming events such as spring break, Tax Day (April 15th), and prom. Most people wouldn’t necessarily be fixated on illness, since flu season typically reaches its peak in the winter months. This year, however, illness is on the forefront of our minds, as the coronavirus outbreak is dominating U.S. media.
While many people have concerns about contracting the illness, the worry doesn’t stop there. In fact, there are other problems that are beginning to arise as cybercriminals play on the fears of the public. Therefore, here is some basic information about the coronavirus outbreak, as well as ways you can help minimize exposure to yourself and your business.
What on Earth is the coronavirus?
So, what exactly is the coronavirus? Well, contrary to popular confusion, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 for short) has nothing to do with beer. One thing the two do have in common, however, is that the name represents the appearance. So, if you look at a bottle of Corona, you will notice the golden crown in the middle of the label. If you do your research, you will also learn that “corona” means “crown” in Spanish. Similarly, if you research what the coronavirus looks like under a microscope, you will notice the spikes covering the surface of the virus. Hence the name coronavirus, because the appearance gives the impression of a crown.
On the Move
Ok, now that we’ve cleared up that slightly laughable misunderstanding, let’s move on. This part, however, is not a laughing matter, as science has shown that the coronavirus outbreak has impacted many countries. While this disease is highly contagious, it is not currently believed to be airborne. Contrarily, the disease is typically spread through close contact between individuals. Nevertheless, transmittal of the illness occurs when infected people travel, in which case it spreads. In many cases the carriers are unknowingly infected, since symptoms tend to emerge anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that the workplace and schools can be a breeding ground for illness. This is mainly because of the number of people in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time. So, it is imperative to be mindful of the role your workplace may play in the spread of this disease.
What are the symptoms?
Now, let’s discuss the symptoms. Fortunately, the list of symptoms we’re seeing from the coronavirus outbreak is not long. The symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
At this point, you are probably looking at this list and thinking that these symptoms align with what you may know about the cold or the common flu. So, it’s important to know that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends seeking medical attention immediately in the following scenarios:
- If you have developed symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person who is known to have been infected by the disease
- If you have developed symptoms after having recently traveled to a known infected area
Of course, you should always err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen, even if these two scenarios don’t seem to apply to you.
What can I do to prevent spreading the coronavirus in the workplace?
Well, as you can see, the coronavirus outbreak has affected people of all walks of life. In other words, it does not discriminate. However, there are some good practices to help minimize the spread of many diseases, including the coronavirus, while you are at work. These practices include:
- Avoiding contact with sick people
- Avoiding shaking hands or kissing cheeks to greet people
- Washing hands on every surface of your skin using soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Coughing or sneezing into a tissue, or in the crook of your arm (the inside of your elbow)
- Keeping surface areas disinfected with spray or wipes
Can I do anything to prevent contracting the coronavirus?
As a matter of fact, there are some things you can do to help prevent contracting infectious diseases.
- Get plenty of rest (7 hours minimum per night)
- Drink plenty of water (8 glasses of water—8 oz. each)
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables containing vitamin-C
- Take a vitamin supplement daily
- Get fresh air from the outdoors
While these are great things to practice on a regular basis, please note that these tips are not guaranteed to prevent infection, only to help build your immune system.
What’s this I hear about phishing and the coronavirus?
Now, here is another important issue you should be aware of: Cyber attackers are trying to take advantage of the population’s perception of the coronavirus outbreak. So, you are likely to see an uptick of scams and fishing attacks with scammers trying to infiltrate your technology. Furthermore, they are trying every angle to gain access to your personal information.
Certainly, it should go without saying that you should not click links from emails or social media, as this is the entry point for scammers to get what they want from you. Moreover, never provide any personal information via email or from a link you have clicked from an individual or company from whom you do not know. In other words, if you did not request it, delete it.
What do I need to know, in a nutshell, about the coronavirus outbreak?
Obviously, this is a lot of information to digest. However, the most important thing you can do is stay rational, so that you can remain alert and respond to any concerns in a calm manner. In other words, don’t panic! Panicking will only make any perceived situation worse.
Next, remember to be mindful of your health, and that of those around you. So, if you are feeling ill, stay home until you get better. Without a doubt, your friends, family, and coworkers will be grateful for your consideration of their wellness. Also, stay informed with information from reputable websites, including the WHO (World Health Organization) and the CDC. Doing so will provide the most current and accurate information. Finally, if you receive any emails regarding the coronavirus, do NOT click the links or provide any information they request. Also, follow the same precautions with links sent to you through social media. The CDC will not request personal information via email or social media. Rather, if you have concerns, visit the CDC website for steps to take to address your concerns.
Oh, and one more thing– be sure to wash your hands regularly.