Let’s recognize our enemy (COVID-19):
COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2, is an RNA virus from the coronaviridae family that can live from a few hours to several days in the air and on surfaces. In this family, Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) have previously caused serious epidemic diseases. Recent studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can live up to 72 hours in plastics, 48 hours in stainless steel, 24 hours in cardboard and cork boards, 4 hours on copper utensils and damp cutting boards, and 3 hours in damp cloths and cleaning cloths. This new member of the family can be detected in the air for three hours.
COVID-19 contains a lipid (fat) layer that protects and surrounds its nuclear proteins and genetic material in the RNA structure. That is why they are called enveloped viruses. This layer is necessary for the virus to survive. This virus, which has a healthy lipid layer, provides its presence and proliferation in the respiratory mucosa when it is taken through the nose and mouth (by inhaling or touching our mouth and nose with our hands we touch the contaminated areas).
The virus is not actually a living thing, but a protein molecule surrounded by a lipid layer, and cannot produce and store its own energies. Therefore, the virus cannot survive in the external environment for a long time and requires a live host cell to survive. The virus can disappear at different times depending on the environmental temperature, humidity, brightness and the nature of the surface it holds (as mentioned above). While it can survive longer in humid and dark environments, it cannot survive in high temperatures and light environments.
So, how can we be protected from this enemy, which we now have some knowledge of?
We cannot be protected from the enemy we do not know about. But at least we know our enemy right now. Since we know that the lipid layer is important for the virus, if we remove this layer, we can get rid of its existence. For this purpose, we can do the following (WHO’s recommendations are in this direction):
- By washing our hands with soap for at least 20-30 seconds, we cause the virus to die because we destroy the envelope consisting of the lipid layer of the virus and destroy the nuclear protein that has the ability to infect. We can also do this with hand sanitizers. However, we may not be able to reach them all the time.
- We now know that the virus is unable to withstand heat (especially above 25 degrees); based on this information, when we do soap washing with hot water, we ensure that the lipid layer of the virus breaks down more easily and quickly. It is stated that washing everything including our clothes with 25-30 degree but not boiling water will eliminate the risk and contagious of infection.
- Solutions containing 65% alcohol can also destroy the lipid layer of the virus. Since Cologne has these features, it can be used for this purpose. It is stated that the use of mouthwashes containing more than 65% alcohol can also be a good protection method.
- It is stated that alcoholic beverage consumption cannot have a protective effect since most alcoholic beverages contain 40% and below alcohol.
- It is stated that diluted 1/5 bleach (1-part bleach 5-part water) is effective in the elimination of virus proteins.
- Pure oxygenated water (but undiluted) is also stated to be effective in the destruction of virus proteins such as bleach.
- Since COVID-19 is not a living organism such as bacteria, antibiotics will not work and therefore never use.
- We shouldn’t definitely whisk the clothes and sheets we use. When we whisk it, we allow it to spread and live there. This will cause the disease to spread.
- Let’s keep in mind that it can stay alive for 3-4 hours in damp clothes and cleaning cloths, cutting boards and take our precautions accordingly. Let’s stay away from contact until it dries.
- It can survive for a long time in home and car air conditioners. Therefore, let’s not postpone the disinfection maintenance of air conditioners.
- Airing our environment periodically, keeping it dry and warm prevents the virus from surviving.
- UV rays cause the destruction of virus proteins.
- Ordinary face masks are said to be sufficient to prevent the contamination of virus particles. It is stated that it can be used even several times by disinfecting them.
- It is stated that the vinegar is useless in removing the lipid envelope of the virus and is therefore not very reliable.
- Before we take anything into our mouth, we wash our hands after contacting any items you can think of, including door locks and handles, electric switches, remote controls, cell phones, watches, computers, tables, television and toiletries (in accordance with the above rules). We also clean all contactable surfaces in response to the risk of subsequent contamination.
- We should keep our nails short. Because the virus can stay under the nail for a long time.
- Since we wash our hands frequently and use disinfectants, the skin becomes dry and cracks that we cannot notice will occur. As these cracks will facilitate the entry of the virus into the body, we will constantly try to keep our skin moist and healthy.
- We will not forget to maintain the distance (at least 1 meter) between other individuals due to people who have symptoms or may have the potential to be carriers that we may not notice.
Let’s protect ourselves and when the symptoms of the disease appear, let’s take the necessary precautions for the health of other individuals and apply to the nearest health institution.
Precautions to be taken for corona-phobia:
- Review your news source: Do not rely on news shared by social media that is not affiliated with authorized health institutions (World Health Organization, CDC [Centres for Disease Control] and The Ministry of Health and its sub-organizations in the country where you live). Because some of the news are malicious and cause information pollution, and such news aims to disturb the psychology of the society and to release fear. Do not rely on such news.
- Limit to keep up to date with the latest news: Continuous monitoring of newspaper and social media news can put you in a negative loop, causing you discomfort at the psychological level. Here, boundary and spiritual behaviours are different for everyone. So, pay attention to how you feel and how you adjust yourself accordingly. If you feel overwhelmed and your anxiety increase, stop watching the news and follow the social media. If you can’t, try to put at least a limit (for example, to watch and follow news from reliable sources for only half an hour a day). If you cannot trust your news sources and cannot limit yourself, stay away from social and print media and ask to someone you trust to pass along any important updates.
- Do not exaggerate the measures to be taken for Corona virus: It will be sufficient for you to follow and apply the basic rules specified by authorized health institutions as often as recommended. Disregard information from news sources that you do not know is reliable and do not apply without asking your doctor. Perhaps what is said will not be suitable for your body and will further impair your health.
- Eliminate your worries and concerns: Eliminate your concerns and concerns about Corona virus by contacting your doctor and / or psychologist. Everything that you can’t find answers to the questions in your mind causes anxiety and anxiety, and if it continues, it can rise to the level of phobia. Therefore, taking early precautions is important for your psychology. Do not rely on social media news and groups that have become very common and uncontrolled today. Because there is a lot of information pollution in this regard. Observe the warnings and precautions of the authorized health institutions (mentioned above). If you are unable to read and watch such news, you may want to consider leaving such groups. Emotional feelings like anxiety and fear are usually accompanied by symptoms such as physical palpitations, rapid breathing. Outdoor walks, meditation and breathing exercises away from the crowd can help improve these emotional symptoms.
- Do not spread the feeling of panic, a social virus: this feeling will negatively affect the psychology of both you and the society at varying degrees. We should pay attention to what we share on social media. Let’s do our best to verify before we share. We all have to do our part to avoid spreading rumours and pumping unnecessary panic.
Prof. Dr. Ayhan ÖZCAN, MD, Pathologist
Prof. Dr. Celale Tangül ÖZCAN, RN, PhD, Psychotherapist, Psychiatric Nurse and Family Counselor