Budapest, Hungary. Photo: MTI

Experts have been warning us for years that the occurrence of a global pandemic is just a matter of time. From the first Hungarian coronavirus case, there were more than a dozen people infected and an emergency was declared within a week. Professionals emphasise that it is not only the government’s duty to confine a pandemic, but it is also the duty of every individual as well; both to protect ourselves and others. The question is just how? Hvg has gathered the most important things to do, and refrain yourself from doing.

What you should do:

The most important thing to do is to wash your hands, and you should not get close to the ill. In general, try to keep contact with people to a minimum. Proper handwashing should take at least 20 seconds, and you should not miss the back of your hands, your fingers, wash between the fingers and clean your nails. If you use alcohol disinfectant, it should also be rubbed on the hand for at least 20 seconds, and it should have a minimum alcohol content of 60%.

For the time being, it is worth omitting handshakes and kisses.

If you notice someone in your environment who is showing symptoms of flu or cold, try to stand at least 1.8 meters away. If this is not possible, then even a small distance matters a lot. The virus mainly spreads through droplet infection. Droplets can be generated via coughing, sneezing, talking or exhalation and then transmitted to another person nearby.

If we ourselves are coughing or sneezing you should use a handkerchief or at least your elbows, instead of your palms. In this way, we can prevent pathogens from spreading to other surfaces when we touch it with our hands.

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What you should not do:

Most importantly, do not panic.

You should not try to be a hero and go to your workplace if you feel even just slightly ill. Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth. Not even with clean hands, but definitely not if your hands are dirty. The virus can quickly enter your body through these locations.

You may be tempted to wear face masks, but they do not really prevent you from becoming infected by the virus. Healthcare workers, however, need it, as do those who are infected, as masks can help prevent them from further spreading the infection. Those who are healthy and wear masks – especially those who misuse it: touch their face or their mask – will only help spread the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms are:

  • dry cough
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • difficult breathing

Some patients may experience sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, pain or diarrhoea. Others do not experience symptoms at all and might not even feel ill.

Because the symptoms are very similar to those of flu or cold, experts consider two aspects important: Have the patient been at high-risk locations like China, South Korea or Italy recently? Have they been associated with a person infected with coronavirus?

Symptoms may appear 2-10 or even 24 days after infection.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special care, but one in every six people develop severe breathing difficulties. Dangerous, even life-threatening conditions are more likely to occur in people with a chronic underlying disease, and death is most likely to affect those over 60. People over 80 are especially endangered.

There is no vaccine or medicine yet, so the outcome of the disease depends on the toughness of our body’s immune system.


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