What Is Coronavirus (COVID-19)? How Can You Protect Yourself?

As cases of coronavirus continue climbing, scientists have been scrambling to control the virus and find new ways to fight infection. But although it has become a global problem, there are plenty of steps you can take to help prepare for the coronavirus, right at home.

In addition to practicing cough etiquette, washing your hands frequently and keeping your distance from others who are sick to prevent the spread of germs, there are some natural approaches to supporting overall health as well.

This article will take a closer look at the coronavirus, including what it is, what we know about it to date and what scientists are working on to help contain and combat it.

What Is the Coronavirus?

Coronviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses found in a variety of mammals and birds. In humans, these viruses can cause a number of conditions, ranging from mild respiratory infections to more serious illnesses like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that was recently identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means that they can be transmitted from animals to humans. SARS, for example, is believed to have originated from civet cats while MERS was first transmitted to humans from dromedary camels. Like other respiratory infections, coronaviruses can also be spread from person-to-person through contact with bodily fluids such as saliva, blood or urine. As of now, scientists have still not traced where exactly COVID-19 originated.

Currently, it’s also unclear exactly how contagious COVID-19 is. However, until a vaccine or treatment is released for the virus, taking a few basic protective measures is prudent.


Now that we’ve covered what exactly coronavirus is, let’s take a closer look by the numbers.

  • There have been cases confirmed in 186 different countries. Apart from China,the top countries affected include Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran.
  • Symptoms can emerge between 2–14 days after infection.
  • Without containment measures such as quarantine, it’s estimated that an infected person could spread the virus to 1.5-3.5 people.
  • Although the virus can infect anyone, the mortality rate increases with age. Those who are in their 50s, for example, are three times as likely to die from coronavirus as those in their 40s. Meanwhile, older adults over 80 have a mortality rate of nearly 15 percent.
  • The World Health Organization has appointed 15 COVID-19 referral laboratories around the globe, including in countries like Australia, Senegal, France,Russia, India and the U.S., among others.


Healthcare providers may diagnose coronavirus by conducting a physical exam, taking your medical history and performing lab tests, including bloodwork, sputum tests or throat swabs. Those who have recently traveled to China or have been in close contact with someone who is infected are at a higher risk.

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to other respiratory infections, including the common cold. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain

In severe cases, coronavirus may also cause more serious issues, including pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome or even death.

Steps to Take to Help Protect Yourself

Taking a few basic protective measures against infection is a simple strategy that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few steps that you can take to protect yourself and others.

1. Wash Hands Frequently

Wash your hands regularly using either soap and water or an alcohol-based rub, which can help kill off any viruses and prevent the spread of germs. Be sure to wash hands for at least 20 seconds before eating and after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the bathroom.

2. Maintain Distance

Ideally, try to maintain at least three feet of distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This can help prevent you from breathing in any liquid droplets containing the virus, which can be sprayed through the nose or mouth through coughing and sneezing.

3. Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

Viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Washing and disinfecting surfaces that you regularly use can help block the spread of germs to prevent infection.

4. Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose and Mouth

Your hands can pick up viruses from the surfaces that you touch. Touching your face with unwashed hands can transfer these germs, which can then enter the body and cause infection.

5. Practice Cough Etiquette and Respiratory Hygiene

Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or using a tissue to cover your mouth can help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Be sure to also dispose of used tissues immediately and wash your hands thoroughly after exposure to any respiratory secretions.

6. Stock Up On Supplies

Although health authorities do not recommend using a face mask unless you’re actually sick or in direct contact with those who are infected, you may want to stock up on other household supplies and anything else you regularly use for your health.

Ideally, you should have a 30-day supply of essentials, including laundry detergent, soap, diapers and pantry staples.

7. Stay Up-to-Date to Make Sure the Virus Is Not in Your Region

Find and bookmark the website of your local health department, which can help you stay up-to-date with the latest news and ensure that you know who to contact in case of infection.

8. Seek Medical Attention Early

If you’re not feeling well, it’s best to stay home to avoid infecting others. If you experience more serious side effects like cough, fever or shortness of breath, contact your own health provider or local health authority to determine the next steps.

What About Natural Approaches?

In addition to practicing the strategies above, incorporating a few healthy immune system-supporting supplements into your routine may also be beneficial. Keep in mind that these should not be used to replace hand washing or respiratory hygiene, and you should seek immediate medical care if you experience any symptoms.

1. Vitamin C and D3

Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system. Daily needs for vitamin C is 300 milligrams daily and up to 1,000–3,000 milligrams daily during times when you may wish to consume more. The best dietary sources of vitamin C are fruits and veggies, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers and berries.

Vitamin D3 is also beneficial for its ability to support a healthy immune system. Vitamin D3 is also integral to the normal, healthy function of immune cells in the body. Dosage recommendations vary from 400 to 800 IU per day to up to 5,000 IU.

2. Red algae

Some research shows that certain compounds isolated from red algae, also known as Griffithsia, could help support a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function.

However, more research is needed to determine conclusive results.

3. Licorice root

Glycyrrhizin, an active compound found in licorice root, may possess powerful health-supporting and healthy immune system-supporting properties. Still, additional studies should be conducted to evaluate licorice root’s benefits.

4. Elderberry syrup

Elderberry syrup has been shown to help support a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function.

5. Healthy immune system–supporting foods and herbs

Dr. Josh Axe also consumes these healthy immune system–supporting foods and herbs, some of which have been traditionally used for thousands of years. This includes foods that are light yellow or white in color, including:

  • Chicken broth
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

Similarly, he recommends that you consume a diet rich in vegetables, vitamin C–rich fruits, manuka honey, herbs, spices, and wild organic meat like poultry and bone broth. An ideal meal for supporting a healthy immune system, for example, is homemade chicken soup (add ginger and garlic to the recipe).

Native to New Zealand, manuka honey is a type of honey that has been highly regarded for its beneficial healthy immune system-supporting properties.

In addition, the herb echinacea may be beneficial.

6. Oregano oil

Oregano oil, too, can be helpful in supporting a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function. Its primary active component, carvacrol, is what is believed to provide these benefits.

The Outlook for the Coronavirus to Date

There is still a lot that is unknown about the “novel” or new coronavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19. Those who are infected should receive medical care to help alleviate symptoms, which may also include care to support vital organ functions in more severe cases.

There are no approved treatments for coronaviruses and very few effective antiviral medications in general. Additionally, developing new drugs can require a massive investment in terms of time, money and resources, which can make it challenging to find medical treatments against COVID-19.

In the meantime, researchers have been experimenting with using existing drugs to treat new infections like coronavirus. According to a recent case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, physicians at Providence Regional Medical Center in Washington received permission from the FDA to treat a case of coronavirus using an investigational antiviral therapy originally designed to treat Ebola. After eight days of hospitalization, the patient’s clinical condition began to improve and symptoms like cough and fever had decreased in severity.

Although research in humans is lacking, in vitro studies have found that this novel therapy could potentially decrease the growth of coronavirus to help control infections. Other antiviral medications are also being investigated, including lopinavir/ritonavir, which is a medication used to treat HIV.

In addition to developing antiviral medications to treat coronavirus, other organizations have begun looking for solutions to help contain and prevent outbreaks. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for example, has begun conducting clinical testing on antibody-based therapies to help prevent the virus from entering and infecting cells in the first place. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop antibody treatments against coronavirus.

Final Thoughts

  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause a range of different symptoms.
  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain of virus that was recently identified in humans and can cause symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Some natural approaches to supporting a healthy immune system and healthy immune system function may include vitamin C and D, red algae, licorice,elderberry syrup and manuka honey.
  • Until new treatments and therapies are developed, however, it’s important to wash your hands frequently, maintain distance from others who are sick,disinfect surfaces, practice respiratory hygiene and seek medical care immediately if you are sick.

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