Improving global prehospital and emergency medicine, public health, and disaster health care and preparedness


Interactive Map Credit: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering

Listen to the Latest COVID-19 Podcasts 🎙️

Since mid-March, WADEM has been recording a weekly podcast on different topics associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are the embedded audio players. All the podcasts can be accessed on WADEM’s SoundCloud page at the following link –

COVID-19 Requires a Data-Driven, Proportionate Response

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that is straining healthcare systems, causing shortages of required medical equipment, and threatening economies. We must continue to let the data drive our policies and strive to protect supply chains and preserve our healthcare workforce.

While the World Health Organization now refers to COVID-19 as a pandemic, this only indicates that there has been sustained transmission in the community, telling us little about the severity of illness and its healthcare impact.

Most evidence currently indicates that around 80% of people who become sick from COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms, including a dry cough, fever, sore throat, and fatigue. 15% of infected people require inpatient care, while critical illness, including pneumonia, severe respiratory complications, and sepsis has been found in approximately 5% of all cases.

The elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk from COVID19, while there are much fewer serious cases in children and young adults. However, younger people can transmit the disease to the more vulnerable.

The world needs to hit the pause button and take the steps required to slow the spread, including personal hygiene practices and self-quarantine of the ill. As this pandemic progresses, we must all analyze the data and recommendations coming from WHO, and implement a response that is appropriate and mitigates community spread. This outbreak requires an emergency management approach across many disciplines in order to create healthcare strategies and economic policies that are scalable and appropriate, bringing everyone to as speedy a recovery as possible.

Protect Vulnerable Populations and not Overburden Health Systems

There are many sources of information for COVID-19 from social media to national Centers for Disease Control (CDCs) to the WHO. While national and regional guidelines ought to be followed, WADEM endorses the mandate of the WHO to bring together knowledge, insight, and best practices into a single source that adapts as the situation changes.

There are features of SARS-CoV-2 that resemble seasonal influenza. They are both droplet-spread viruses that cause primarily respiratory symptoms and fever. However, historically influenza has killed far more people annually than any coronavirus, even with the availability of vaccines and antivirals and yet it seldom makes the news.

COVID-19 is an emerging disease with a yet to be determined mortality rate. Estimates of 2-4% are based on known or test positive cases. What we don’t know is how many untested cases of mild and asymptomatic patients there really are. If that number is high, the mortality is much lower.

What we do know for sure is that mortality is higher in the elderly (almost 15% if you are over 80), and those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or cancer. For those not in that group who become infected with COVID-19, most (80%) will only suffer from symptoms similar to the common cold, while some (15%) may require hospital-level care, to include supplemental oxygen, and a small percentage (5%) may require ICU-level care.

If you are not in a high-risk group and have only mild symptoms, STAY HOME and self-quarantine so you don’t spread it to others who may transmit it to the more vulnerable.

WADEM is also advocating for public health departments to work with governments to:

  • Establish COVID-19 Hotlines so that the public can be reassured, given advice for self-care and when to seek medical help;
  • Set up COVID-19 Assessments Centers (if the numbers are high) to help hospitals protect the vulnerable in their Emergency Departments and other high-risk areas.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Worry About COVID-19?
It is advised to understand that COVID-19 is spreading around the world and take appropriate steps outlined below to keep from getting ill. However, it is not advised to panic over this outbreak and make unwarranted decisions. Informed actions and heeding the advice from the World Health Organization will enable the global community to recover from this COVID-19 outbreak.

What are the symptoms?
Most people who are infected by Coronavirus feel like they have a common cold. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, sore throat, dry cough, and fatigue but some also have headaches, nasal congestion, or a runny nose. Diarrhea and nausea have also been reported but are less common.

Will I get it?
Yes, you may, much like you may get annual influenza. Those under 18 are less susceptible to the virus, and those over 65 are at higher risk of more severe symptoms as are those with pre-existing conditions like heart disease or asthma. The mortality rate is highest among people over 80. It is therefore generally advised to take steps to avoid contracting the illness, particularly in the more vulnerable population groups.

How sick would I get?
Most people with minor symptoms have generally recovered fully in about 2-4 weeks. People who suffer more severe symptoms may require hospital admission. Some may develop an infection in their lower respiratory tract which could lead to pneumonia.

What should I do if I think I’m sick?
Talk to your local General Practitioner (GP) or primary care doctor and/or call the dedicated Coronavirus information lines that have been established in many countries. Self-quarantine is advised for those with minor illness. For those with more serious illness, including feeling short of breath, seeking medical attention is advised.

Should I avoid attending public events?
The Coronavirus situation continues to evolve rapidly. At this stage, the risk of sustained community spread in most countries is low, therefore we do not currently suggest avoiding public events as a broad policy. However, it is important to note that this advice is subject to change as the situation evolves and may differ for different countries based on risk assessments.

How can I protect myself and my family?
Practice good hygiene by:

  • Making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water;
  • Using of alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow;
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Do face masks protect against Coronavirus?
Face masks are not recommended for the general population. Face masks worn by those who are ill will help limit the spread of the disease.

Is it safe to send my child to school?
This is region-specific and dependent on evolving risk assessments. As a general rule, any student who over the last 14 days has visited or transited through mainland China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea should be in self-quarantine for 14 days upon return home, as the incubation period can be as long as two weeks.

Should I be stockpiling?
It is sensible to start discussing with your family what necessities you may require should one or more of your family members self-quarantine for 14 days. It is not advisable to stockpile large quantities of unnecessary items. It can be useful to ensure that any family member who requires prescription medications has at least a one-month supply at home if possible.

Where should I go for more information?

View the Latest WHO Press Conference – 12 April 2021