Keeping Informed About Covid-19: Together we can make a Difference

Q & A on Covid-19 Keeping you Informed

As a Plastic Surgeon, I am first and foremost a doctor. I am ready to roll up my sleeves, and get into the trenches along with my fellow doctors, nurses and other health care workers as we unite to combat Covid-19 together on the frontline.

Following the interest that my videos gained (check them out, they are still available on social media – and they are about how a virus works, and what we can all do as a society to support one another and beat the virus), I wanted to continue to inform my loyal readers and community about Covid-19.

For those that know me well, you know how much I love the field of medicine (I still have my medical school stethoscope in my treatment room), and in relation to our current situation, during my undergraduate degree in Health Sciences, one of my major subjects was Public Heatlth and Epidemiology! 

What is Corona Virus?

Corona Virus is the illness caused by Covid-19, known scientifically as SARS-Cov2. Severe acute respiratory syndrome is what occurs in up to 15% of cases infected by Covid-19. It is highly infectious and rapidly spreading the globe. 80% of people infected have a mild to moderate illness, 10-15% will require hospitilisation and 5% will need intensive care. It has a mortality of under 5% mostly in patients with pre existing medical conditions.

Should I be Scared of Corona Virus?

Corona Virus is a serious infective illness that the world is battling to control. The positive news is that the majority of people that get infected will recover, but we must be responsible in our actions, to protect those that could die from the virus.

With social distancing, hand washing, respiratory etiquette and staying home we can flatten the curve. This concept and action will allow our health system not to be overwhelmed, so that the Covid-19 pandemic can be brought under control. Importantly it will allow access to vital medical services to all infected.

Do your bit and adhere to what the Governement and Health Ministry recommend and we will get through this.

What is a Living Cell?

A living human cell (Eukaryote) contains a nucleus which contains the DNA, other organelles/structures are present and include proteins, ribosomes, mitochondria and the entire structure is covered by a sophisticated cell wall that contains receptors. Each living human cell makes up our bones, skin, heart etc etc. A bacteria is a Prokaryote cell and contains a nucleus of DNA also but is more simplistic in nature and the cell wall differs to a human living cell. Both Eukaryote and Prokaryote cells can live on there own and don’t require a host to replicate. 

What is a Virus?

A virus is a mirco-organism that contains either DNA or RNA wrapped in a cell wall.  It lacks any other features of a cell. It cannot live on its own and relies on penetrating other cells (human or bacterial) to replicate. 

What is a SARS-Cov2?

It is the virus that causes Corona Virus. It is an RNA virus that is surrounded by a lipid (fatty) cell wall with protein spikes (glycoproteins). These spikes resemble a crown and hence the name “corona”. The common cold is a type of corona virus. The spikes on the Corona virus enable it to spike into human cells and replicate. Without human cells the Corona virus cannot survive or replicate. This is why it is important to exercise social distancing and stay home because it works.

How does Covid-19 Spread

A virus is a mirco-organism that can only spread with human to human contact. Covid-19 cannot replicate on its own and is commonly transmitted through respiratory droplets. It is thought that Covid-19 can survive on some surfaces and this is why it is critical to not touch our face when we are out of our homes. Respiratory droplets are formed from coughing and sneezing and can transmit to others within a 1 metre vicinity. This is why we have implemented the 1.5 metre social distancing rule. 

Why Hand Washing Helps?

Corona virus consists of an outer shell of lipid (fat) and this virus can be killed by simple washing with soap and water You do not need anti-bacterial hand wash like betadine, because much like you cleaning your frying pan the detergent and the foam helps remove grit and oil (see photo). Washing your hands with soap and water for a good 20 seconds will kill Covid-19, by emulsifying the spiky lipid wall of SARS-Cov2. It is imperative you wash your hands frequently and on leaving and coming back home. And please do not touch your face as this is how transmission occurs. Alcohol sanitisers are toxic to the corona virus wall and effective to kill the virus. They are not accessible to everyone but form a convenient washing station when you do not have water

Do we need Face Masks?

Face masks will not necessarily protect you from Covid-19 transmission. A face mask is for use to protect health care workers and to prevent someone with symptoms form passing it on to others that they live with. In fact taking off a mask may be risky in those that do not normally wear face masks. A N95 mask will filter 95% of particles including virus”s but these precious masks are for those on the front line.

The practice of respiratory etiquette, hand hygeine and social distancing will minimise community transmission.

What are PPE?

Personal Protetcive Equipment (PPE) is what the health industry uses to protect ourselves from possible infective patients. It consists of a disposable surgical gown, face mask, eye protection shield and gloves. Due to the potential number of projected Covid-19 patients modelled by the Department of Health we may run out of PPE. This is why the governemnet has mobilised industry to source more, but being a pandemic everyone is in the same boat. That is why we as a practice and private hospitals across Australia have stopped performing ALL elective surgery. One of the main reasons is to preserve PPE and the other is to minimise risk of transmission to all.

What Part Can We Play?

What this pandemic has demonstrated is that we are all connected as humans and we are all going through this together. We can therefore shape what happens next with our actions.

We all need to practice social distancing and minimise our outdoor activity to essential services.

We need to practice good hand hygiene whereby we wash our hands multiple times a day, for 20 seconds, and especially on leaving and arriving from home.

Practice good respiratory etiquette whereby we sneeze or cough into our elbow or shoulder.

Stay home, and only leave when necessary.

If over 80% of Australians do this then we will have flattened and almost squashed Covid-19 by the end of April.

We are in this together, and together we will get through this.

Dr Jack Z


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