All you need to know about : Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The recently discovered Coronavirus has sparked fear in many countries around the world. Such is according to the recent outbreak in the central region of Chinese called Wuhan city. Statistics show more than 95,700 cases of new infections have been confirmed around 70 countries.

As of the 5th of March 2020, 3286 deaths have been linked to the disease, most of which have occurred in China. Outside China, 1848 cases have been reported in 48 countries with the majority happening in Italy, the Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is these worrying stats that have caused the World Health Organization to declare Coronavirus a global health emergency. What should you know about the disease?

Corona-Virus-Symptoms-and-how-it-spreads
Image Source: TheSun.co.uk

What is Coronavirus?

According to the World Health Organization, it is a family of viruses that cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to severe infections like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Coronaviruses are zoonotic as they are transmitted between people and animals. The MERS is transmitted from camels to humans, while SARS, for example, is transmitted from cats to humans. COVID-19, however, is a new strain that had not been identified in humans before.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention had started monitoring the disease in 2019 following an outbreak in Wuhan China. Then, it was referred to as SARS-CoV2 as it was genetically related to the 2003 SARS disease.

Also, Scientists had named it SARS-CoV in a bid to prevent the public from generating their names. Secondly, they ended up calling it MERS to associate it with its scientific symptoms and its severity. Still, it felt like the disease was primarily associated with a geographical region (the Middle-East). Meaning there was a little contention on the naming of this killer disease. 

With the recent coronavirus disease, scientists wanted to adopt a name that didn’t refer to an animal, geographical location, group of people or animals. It is this school of thought that spawned the name Covid-19 to develop a standard format for them to use in subsequent coronavirus outbreaks.

The first people to develop infection were believed to have contracted it from the seafood market in Wuhan. They believed that animals transmitted the virus to humans, a fact that has recently been discredited.

More recent diagnosis shows that exposure to the seafood market does not cause the disease; instead, humans contracted the disease from bats.

Symptoms of COVID-19

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, patients who contract disease report mild to severe symptoms, which appear 2-14 days after exposure. Some of the symptoms include:
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
Thus, people who have been in close contact with a person infected with the disease or have recently visited an area with an ongoing spread of COVID should visit a doctor. WHO’s director-general adds that the risk of developing severe complications increases with age. This is because only a few children have been reported to contract the disease. What’s more, some people are asymptomatic, hence they are likely to carry the virus without showing any symptoms.

What to Do If You Contract COVID-19

The CDC guidelines require people exhibiting any of the symptoms and have been in close contact with an infected person to call their healthcare provider. The patient should also inform the doctor about any recent travel that could have caused the infection.

The healthcare provider will then liaise with the state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if it is indeed COVID-19. If the patient is infected he should follow these steps to prevent transmitting the disease to other people:

  • Remain isolated if you have mild symptoms. Avoid going to school, work or other public areas
  • Confine yourself in a specific room away from people and animals
  • Wear a facemask when you are around people#3
  • Call before visiting the doctor
  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing using a tissue. Be sure to discard the used tissue in a trash can
  • Avoid sharing personal items like cups, drinking glasses, towels, dishes, and beddings. Be sure to wash the items thoroughly after using them using soap and water
  • Clean surfaces high-touch areas like toilets, counters, bathroom fixtures, tablets, phones, keyboards, tabletops, and doorknobs
  • Monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen

How to Prevent Transmission

There is no vaccine available to prevent COVID-19, but scientists have recently replicated the virus to facilitate early detection and treatment in infected persons who are not yet showing symptoms. The CDC  also recommends taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like:
  • Not touching your nose, eyes, and mouth
  • Avoiding close contact with sick people. Maintain a three-foot distance with the individual. This is because when the person sneezes, they spread liquid droplets from the mouth and nose which can transmit the virus
  • Staying at home when sick
  • Washing your hand with soap and water or alcohol-based disinfectant before eating, after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose or going to the bathroom to kill the virus
  • Covering your sneeze or cough using tissue and throwing it in the trash

Myths About Coronavirus

Panic continues to spread about the novel COVID-19 causing many people to believe inaccurate information. We debunk some of the myths:

Is India Safe?

No country is safe from the Coronavirus. However, some countries are exhibiting relatively low infections compared to others. India is one such country reporting only 31 cases of infected persons. Experts find this phenomenon unusual but associate it with India’s hot and humid weather. They explain that viruses such as COVID-19, MERS, and SARS thrive in areas with low temperatures hence the rapid spread in regions with colder climates like South Korea and Japan. However, people should follow the necessary precautions to prevent infection. This is because India has a high population and high internal migration that could cause rapid transmission. What’s more, the deplorable state of the healthcare sector means the country cannot take care of its citizens in the event of an outbreak.

Conclusion

Now you know all about the dreaded COVID-19; its symptoms and ways to prevent it. If you are exhibiting any of the symptoms, alert your physician immediately, and isolate yourself. The symptoms should wear off after some time, but if they worsen, contact a doctor.

Dr. Rishab Sharma

Dr. Rishab Sharma MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine) He is associated with Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. Dr. Rishab has wide experience in managing a variety of diseases, as well as managing critical care units in large government and corporate hospitals.

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