__Prepare, put in place safeguards, but don’t panic.
I think most of you know that a month or so ago, a deadly epidemic broke out in Wuhan, China that’s now infected people across about 25 countries so far. I am not going to cite statistics of how many people have died or been confirmed as infected by the “Novel Coronanvirus” in the past month. These numbers seem to be changing rapidly. No cases have been confirmed in Africa yet, to my knowledge, but the Global Health Emergency is deeply impacting the continent and the whole world.
People are suffering, flights are being cancelled, travelers are being stranded, ex-pat workers are being sent back home from Wuhan (Hubei Province). Families and cities are being isolated, businesses are being closed temporarily, health workers are being inundated and in many places lack necessary protective supplies. (There is no known vaccine yet but teams are working round the clock to develop one).
So what can WE do to help? This is a time for nations and people to work together, not in isolation, as we learned when we first started fighting the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and global agencies have been doing in the DRC since mid-2018.
Today, let’s start with what YOU can do, the basics, and what you shouldn’t do. Most of these health guidelines apply at all times to keep you and your family, school and place of business healthy.
First of all, what are the symptoms of what they call the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?
At first, symptoms are not very different from the flu or common cold. They include:
Fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath/breathing difficulties. This can turn into bronchitis, severe pneumonia and/or liver or kidney failure, then death. Those particularly at risk seem to be people with weak immune systems, cardiopulmonary disease, infants and older adults.
How do you help stop the spread of this disease and many others? This is IMPORTANT:
# It is believed that from a few days after you are exposed to maybe 14 days later, (the “incubation period”) you can have been infected by the Coronavirus and not know it. This means before you start showing symptoms you can be spreading the virus without knowing it.
__Be smart. Have you traveled where there has been an outbreak of the Coronavirus? Then be vigilant!
# Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. (This applies for any kind of flu or illness, by the way).
# Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
# If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a fixed elbow, not your hands. (You should do this in any case, whatever the situation!) Discard the tissue in a closed bin. Do not just throw it on the ground! Then wash your hands.
# Avoid close contact with anyone with a fever or a cough.
# Avoid contact with sick animals.
# Do NOT touch your face, which passes germs to your nose, mouth and/or eyes!
# If you suspect you might be infected with the Coronavirus, (you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
# Avoided unnecessary travel and do NOT travel publicly while you think you might be infected… not in a taxi, bus, train, plane, an Uber or any vehicle with other passengers! And don’t go to work or school. Avoid crowded places in general.
# If you choose to wear a face mask, be sure to cover mouth and nose, then avoid touching mask once it’s on. Immediately discard single-use masks after each use and wash hands after removing mask.
# When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of Coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.
# Eat only well-cooked food. Eating raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
# Before you go to a health care worker, doctor or emergency room, try to CALL AHEAD and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms. Don’t just show up at the hospital as this could possibly infect others.
You all know that I am not a health professional. It is up to you to do your own research and protect yourselves. To help this process, I am going to share online links to organizations known for their global health professionals and expertise. The advice I shared here came from these sites. Please share!
Remember: This is a time to open your heart, stay alert, and be smart.
This Global Health Emergency is a global challenge but we have to tackle it locally. My heart goes out to everyone in China and across the world who are impacted. Let’s do what we can where we are.
# World Health Organization: Advice for Public (share widely)
# US Center for Disease Control (USA)
# European Center for Disease Control: Frequently asked questions
# Australian Government Department of Health
Entrepreneurs amongst you, this is a real problem for you to reflect upon. What can you do? To start with, you can help educate people. The WHO link I gave you above and below has some hand-outs you can print and/or share with people online. That’s just one idea.
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa