5. Care and Hygiene during a Virus Epidemic


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Text and video by Fundacja “Małopolska Izba Samorządowa”, Kraków, Poland. Design and layout by e-Training Solutions, Berlin, Germany. Cartoons by Boris Luve.


Viral infections have constituted an important field of infectious diseases for a long time. They are particularly dangerous for the elderly,as their immune system is often impaired by other chronic diseases (among others: hypertension, diabetes or atherosclerosis) and their body is not well protected against viruses.

In recent years, new, previously unknown viruses have emerged. But it was not until the emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that a sense of threat was felt worldwide and the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first period of the COVID-19 pandemic (spring 2020), in most of the affected countries the highest number of deaths involved the elderly. This is associated with the so-called concomitantconditions, which significantly weaken the immune system. On the basis of the previously gathered knowledge and data on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO identified diseases that may promote the multiplication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These include diabetes, coronary heart disease, lung disease, asthma and others.

People who became ill and underwent COVID-19 are also at risk of developing the so-called post-Covid syndrome, which may be manifested by myocarditis, impaired functioning of the nervous system, kidney dysfunction, or arterial damage.

For these reasons, older people are at increased risk of viral infection. They require particular care, especially in the case of an epidemic or a pandemic of a virus.

  Epidemic versus pandemic

The word epidemic comes from the Greek epi, which means haunting and demos, which means people. An epidemic isthe occurrence of infections or infectious diseases in a given area in a significantly higher number of cases than before, or the occurrence of infections or infectious diseases which were previously non-existent.
The most famous epidemic in history was the plague epidemic that broke out in Europe in the 14th century. The “black death”, as it was called, led to the death of a third of the population of Europe. The epidemic began in Asia, and was transferred through the Silk Road successively into Crimea, the Mediterranean countries and the whole of Europe. The disease was probably carried by rats that were spreading on merchant ships. Plague was caused by a bacterium – Yersinia pestis.
Unlike an epidemic, which is confined to a certain area, a pandemic is global. Itis facilitated by low disease mortality – fewer victims mean a higher rate of contagiousness. Factors facilitating the spread of a disease include the lack of biological immunity of the population (especially in the case of diseases which have not been active for a long time), a long period of contagiousness, contagiousness during the asymptomatic period of the disease, harmless and/or common symptoms –which complicate the diagnosis.
The most famous pandemic in history was the so-called “Spanish flu”, in 1918, which killed 50 million people.
Today, the whole world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus.
The pandemic is announced by the WHO (World Health Organisation), based on the number of cases and the geographical extent of the phenomenon.


Learning Objectives

In this module you will learn about:

   The causes of virus infections and how you can protect the elderly against the diseases caused by viruses
   Symptoms associated with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection
   The basic principles of personal hygiene of the elderly and their surroundings, at the time of increased risk of virus infection
   Rehabilitation of an elderly person who has undergone a disease related to COVID-19.


Expected Learning Effects

After completing this module, you will know:

   How to protect an elderly person against infectious and other diseases, including viral infections
   How to take care of the personal hygiene of an elderly person, especially during avirus epidemic
   How to care for an elderly person during a period of illness caused by a virus infection and after the symptoms have disappeared


5.1. Virus Infection
5.2. Preventing a Viral Infection
5.3. Hand Washing Hygiene and Disinfection
5.4. Rehabilitation after COVID-19
5.5 Assessment


Estimated time to complete the module:

2 hours



This E-learning module is an open educational resource. It is mobile-friendly and device-independent. The module is designed for individual learners, however it can also be used as a part of a instructor-led training program.
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