Our eyes might have an important role in the spread and prevention of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, actually present worldwide.
For this reason, the authority advises not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. It is the mucous membranes (the membranes that cover the various body cavities) that are most susceptible to transmission of the virus.
To eliminate personal risk and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Health authority urges you to take these steps:
Coronavirus around the world
World has reached the third phase, the epidemic phase, in the spread of the coronavirus, and expects a much larger number of infections and hospitalizations, which will accumulate in the coming weeks.
The authority has launched worldwide the #StayAtHome campaign to encourage people to stay at home, except for essential outings, in order to avoid a significant increase in coronavirus cases. Major events have been postponed or cancelled; schools have been suspended, people have been asked not to touch or kiss when greeting each other, all as part of an effort to avoid overwhelming the national healthcare system.
What is the coronavirus?
Reports of a new coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) first emerged in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China.
Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses related with cold or flu. Some affect only animals (such as bats, cats, camels, and cattle), while others also affect people, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
COVID-19 can trigger illnesses as mild as the common cold, or more significant ones such as bronchitis, pneumonia and kidney failure. More severe cases can provoke your death. This is the seventh known type of coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How does the new coronavirus relate to your eyes?
Patients who have contracted the new coronavirus may have eye symptoms. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane covering the eyeball. Conjunctivitis often presents as an infected/red, “wet and watery” eye.
Viral conjunctivitis is known to occur with upper respiratory infections (colds, flus, etc.) and may be a symptom of the COVID-19 virus. A recent study in hospitals in China, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found “conjunctival congestion” or red, infected eyes in 9 of 1,099 patients (0.8%) with a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus.
A study in The Journal of Medical Virology of 30 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had only one patient diagnosed with conjunctivitis. Based on this information, the occurrence of conjunctivitis is low.
The relationship between coronavirus transmission and your eyes is complicated
COVID-19 is believed to be transmitted from person to person primarily through airborne “respiratory droplets” produced when someone coughs or sneezes, just like the flu virus, the CDC says. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Medical experts are not sure if someone can get this virus by touching a surface or object, such as a table or doorknob, that has COVID -19 and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.
Peking University respiratory specialist Wang Guangfa believes that he contracted COVID-19 when he came into contact with patients at health clinics in China.
Wang reported that his left eye became inflamed afterwards, followed by fever and mucus accumulation in the nose and throat. He was subsequently diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
According to the South China Morning Post, Wang believes the virus entered his left eye because he was not wearing protective goggles.
Dr. Jan Evans Patterson, professor of medicine and pathology in the division of infectious diseases at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, believes this possibility is real.
How contagious is the new coronavirus?
Currently, it is not known how the virus spreads “easily or sustainably” from person to person, according to the CDC. There are still investigations going on to discover what is the real process involved.
Many large meetings and events have been canceled or postponed as a public health measure to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. U.S. health officials have decided to implement these emergency measures as a best practice to contain transmission of the virus and reduce death rate.
Schools have canceled classes and switched to online courses, and sports leagues and museums have closed as a precaution to prevent community spread, as well as gym or theaters.
What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?
Symptoms of COVID-19 include a mild to severe respiratory illness accompanied by fever, cough and breathing problems, according to the World Health Organization. Other symptoms include runny nose, sore throat and headache.
Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those who are older or have other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after someone has been exposed to the virus.
How can you reduce your risk of contracting coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established a web-page with the most up-to-date information related to the coronavirus outbreak where you can get any kind of information
The CDC’s recommended steps to prevent illness include:
Clean your hands often.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, eating, using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible, but especially with unwashed hands.
Reduce your exposure
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home if you are sick, except to receive medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose if you are sick.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask at home unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and cannot wear a face mask). Face masks may be mandatory when you shop, go to work, go to walk around a city or stay in a public park.
Clean and disinfect surfaces
Current evidence suggests that new coronaviruses can remain viable for hours or days on surfaces made of a variety of materials, CDC reports. Cleaning visibly soiled surfaces followed by disinfection is a best-practice measure for preventing COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in homes and community settings.
At least some coronaviruses can remain viable, capable of infecting a person, for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Dressing to limit exposure
According to the World Health Organization, if you have the potential for exposure to a person with coronavirus, you should be equipped with protective eyewear, a surgical mask, a medical gown, medical gloves and a disposable respirator.