Updates on COVID-19 and how to protect yourself

With the current outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus, there seems to be a lot of information floating around the internet. We caught up with Dr.Masoud Akhshik, PhD. CEO and Co-founder of  Advanced Hi-Tech Centre Ltd. former member of our RBC EPIC Founders Program and current member of our EPIC Incubation Program. He gave us some detailed information about the Coronavirus; where it came from, how it spreads and how to prevent spreading it to other people. Check out the full write-up below!

The outbreak of current Coronavirus infection also known as COVID-19 has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Coronaviruses are common enough to be one of the causes of common cold, but they can cause a range of respiratory symptoms from mild to severe and even death. Since the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has killed thousands of people to date and many more are still being affected worldwide, we should be aware of the Coronavirus – what it is and all the precautionary measures that one has to take to prevent themselves from getting infected. Here is all the information about the Coronavirus in detail so that every person can take necessary precautions to help prevent themselves from getting infected.


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are commonly found in animals but rarely found in humans and can cause illness which could be mild to severe. Microscopic studies revealed that their structure is crown-shaped, hence the name Corona. Many types of coronaviruses can affect humans such as NL63, OC43, and 229E etc. The novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, This is a fancy word to say they are transmitted between animals and humans. They are also reported to be contagious which means they can be transmitted from contact with an infected person, infected object or surface.


The COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) that currently started in the city of Wuhan, China is completely unknown and has never been encountered by the scientific community before. It has also been found to be transmitted from animals to humans (for example, bats or snakes) but it’s still not clear which animal it came from specifically. The majority of the initial infected were reported to be regular customers or workers at the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan.


Coronaviruses mostly cause mild to severe symptoms. There are some cases of people who show no symptoms but their test result is positive. According to the WHO, mild symptoms can include a runny nose, headache, sore throat, fever and difficulty in breathing. In severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney failure, SARS ( Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ) and even death. According to current research, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. There are cases of 0 days and 27 days reported as well. Infants, the elderly and people with weak immune systems or cardiopulmonary problems are more prone to become infected.


All the Coronaviruses have almost similar ways of spreading. Current understanding of how the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID-19 ) spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily among people.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person. It can transmit from affected people who are in close contact with each other. Another way is via airborne droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets can land in the mouths, noses or eyes of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It is also thought to be transmitted through contact with an infected surface. It might be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but it is not the main way for the virus to be transmitted.


Unlike Bacteria, Viruses are not alive, the new coronavirus can stay active up to 72 hours on steel or plastic, 24 hours on cardboard and paper and 3 hours in the air. So all you have to do is to wait. The other, faster way would be using good old soap and water. You can also use 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) within a minute. please keep in mind that these are the percentagse to achieve the best results, for example, a 70% alcohol will disinfect the surface better than 96% alcohol.


The COVID-19 pandemic was first reported in China in the city of Wuhan on 31st December 2019. Because hundreds and thousands of people travelling to and from China, the virus has been transmitted to other countries as well.

According to the latest news as of 24th March, the viral outbreak has affected over 393,000 people globally with over 17,000 deaths. More than 103,000 people affected have already been recovered. According to reports from Worldometers (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) 196 countries have been affected by the COVID-19.


To prevent ourselves from getting infected with the coronavirus we can follow the standard recommendations set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for protection which are as follows:

  1. Avoid close contact with infected people
  2. Wash your hands frequently and properly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  4. Cover your mouth with a tissue or elbow while coughing or sneezing, then dispose of the used tissue properly and immediately
  5. Make sure you and the people around you follow a good respiratory hygiene
  6. Cook meat and eggs properly and thoroughly
  7. Try to avoid going outside when you are sick unless very necessary
  8. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the house using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes
  9. Restrict your contact with pets or other animals if you are sick
  10. The CDC recommends that people who show COVID-19 symptoms to wear a face mask to help in the prevention of the disease from spreading to others
  11. If you feel like having fever, cough or difficulty in breathing, seek medical attention as soon as possible and refrain from self – medication
  12. don’t forget the social distancing


As our knowledge about this virus is increasing very quickly, your best option is to first call your primary care providers before going into an assessment center. Look out for the symptoms of COVID-19:


  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Severe Confusion
  • persistent vomiting


  • Fast or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin colour
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being irritable so that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
  • Has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes, or asthma) and develops flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough

Call your health care provider immediately if you have the symptoms and you are pregnant, are elderly or frail, or you live in a remote or isolated community. Also if you have heart or lung disease, have any chronic health problem, or you have an illness or are receiving treatments that might affect your immune system.


The bad news is that researchers have still not found any vaccine or treatment to fight against the COVID-19 and good news is we are close. Since it is a viral disease, antibiotics are of no use and the antiviral drugs we have currently are of not effective against the COVID-19, therefore no specific antiviral treatment is recommended for it. The only recommendations for viruses in the non-severe case would be hydrate/rest. You can use electrolyte drinks to hydrate and avoid unbalancing your body. You can even make your own Electrolyte water by adding 6 level teaspoons of Sugar and 1/2 level teaspoon of Salt to one liter of water. Make sure your water is safe first; you can use a portable water test kit like SipSafer (https://Sipsafer.ca) to make sure your water is safe to drink. Researchers are developing a vaccine now this will be released after tested in clinical trials. Recovery from the disease depends on the strength of the immune system.


Avoid shopping as much as you can. Limit your store presence, do all your shopping at once, let the non-perishable items stay in your car’s trunk or garage for 3 days and then bring them in. Disinfect everything that you are bringing inside your home.

When you receive a package or mail, Let it stay for 24 hours or disinfect and get rid of the packages. There where cases internationally that the postman was contaminated and cough on the mail right before putting it in the mailbox. An Amazon fulfilment centre worker who is wrapping your order may be contaminated, wash your hand after opening the box and don’t touch your face if you haven’t wash your hand.

When your city is in a state of emergency and there not so many places open, it means you need to stay home and stop socializing in person! staying home may be a little bit hard for some people, you can still enjoy a walk outside but follow the WHO advice.

Even if you are not a green thumb, it is a good idea to grow some vegetables, if you have a backyard a balcony or even if you have a window. Not only you will enjoy fresh vegetables it also helps you stay in good mental health.


To be honest we need more time to figure this virus out and this may not go away with the warm season. Notice that there are countries affected which are warm and hot. As of now, there seems to be 3 main way out of this pandemic:

  1. Vaccination which is 12-18 months away
  2. Herd immunity which is a lot of people get the disease and recover
  3. Change in our society and behaviour


Uncertainty around this virus is frustrating but please keep in mind that this virus is not really what is killing people! Heart disease is killing 17.9 Million each year! Cancer, our number 2 killer, is killing 9.6 million each year! If we follow a simple guide we can protect ourselves from this virus.

The former commander of the international space station, Chris Hadfield, released a video with four tips for self-isolating.

  1. Understand the risk and avoid scaring everything!
  2. Figure out what is the purpose or the mission and set goals toward it.
  3. Then Take action. It may be the perfect time to start a new project, learn that new skill, new language. consider it a chance to do things you have never done before. Take care of yourself, your family and friends and your spaceship.
  4. Repeat

Stay safe and take care don’t forget that we are strong species, and we got this!

Also check out this video created by the team at Advanced Hi-Tech Centre Ltd.


Dr. Masoud Akhshik, PhD
CEO and Co-Founder,
Advanced Hi-Tech Centre Ltd.