Diabetes and coronavirus: what you should know

July 02, 2020
These days, when there is a worldwide spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) - already declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic - it is important that the entire population, especially those over 60 years of age and those who have diabetes or other chronic diseases, take the appropriate safety precautions to prevent the spread.
Most people with diabetes are daily exposed to a series of risks related to complications from viral infections such as the flu, among others. However, there are several ways to avoid becoming infected or to treat an eventual complication in the best way possible.
After the first cases of coronavirus were known in China, the country where this respiratory virus originated, the World Health Organization declared it an epidemic, while the term is used when an outbreak of a disease occurs for a considerable time in a specific geographic area.
However, and due to the increasing expansion of the virus outside its area of origin, the WHO raised the alerts, declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, as it qualifies as an epidemic condition that extends to many countries; that it has the capacity to attack almost all the individuals of a town or region; and that, where it arrives, it can spread internally without coming directly from another country.
Because people with diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational) have a less strong immune system than those without this condition, COVID-19 poses a higher risk of complications for this population if contracted.
According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus can infect people of all ages, especially older adults, and those with diseases such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, in any of its types. The WHO points out that the latter "are more likely to become seriously ill when they acquire the infection."
Considering this situation, is important that all people, regardless of age or other categories, take the appropriate measures to protect themselves from the virus, which to date has more than 8,200 fatalities in the world. For this reason, the WHO urges all communities to prevent coronavirus with simple actions, such as maintaining good hand hygiene.

How to protect yourself?

After announcing with scientific evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted in any geographical area or territory, including those with a hot and humid climate, the WHO and other health authorities globally have reinforced the call to the world community to prevent transmission of this virus that reported its first cases in the city of Wuhan, China.
Until now, COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly from one person to another. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the coronavirus can be transmitted between people who are in close contact with each other (about 6 feet away, plus or minus 1.80 meters), through small drops that come out of an infected person's body by coughing or sneezing. These droplets can fall on surfaces or objects that, later, when touched by another —and by passing their hands through their nose, eyes, or mouth— come to infect it.
In addition to avoiding contact with infected people, you should try to clean your hands frequently; so:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially if you were in a public place; Or do it after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Try to cover all the surfaces of your hands with it and rub until you feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if you have not washed your hands before.

How to protect others?

If you have symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as dry cough, fever, tiredness, and general discomfort, keep in mind the importance of preserving not only your health, but also that of other people. Therefore, it is vital that you adhere to these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • Stay home if you are sick unless you go out for medical attention.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze; Or use the inside of the elbow when doing it.
  • Put your used tissues in the trash.
  • After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands well with soap and water; Or use a disinfectant that contains no less than 60% alcohol.
  • If you are sick, wear a mask or face mask, especially if you are around other people.
  • If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is (and does not have a mask on).
  • Clean and disinfect the most frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, tables, etc.).
Finally, keep in mind that prevention and evidence-based information and scientific evidence are the best tool to treat this virus that has spread worldwide and accelerated in recent weeks. Although epidemics and, in a greater sense, pandemics often generate panic at the multiple risks they may pose, the most important thing is to follow the recommendations associated with the prevention of a virus that, like COVID-19, can be avoided.
American Diabetes Association [website]. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) [accessed March 12, 2020]. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/treatment-care/planning-sick-days/coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [website]. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Steps to Prevent Illness [last revised March 10, 2020; accessed March 12, 2020]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fprevention-treatment .html
World Health Organization [website]. Coronavirus Disease Outbreak (COVID-19): Guidance to the Public [accessed March 12, 2020]. Available at: https://www.who.int/es/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

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