On December 31st, 2019, the first case of a coronavirus was identified in Hubei Province, China. It originated from the meat market in Wuhan city of China. Since then, the disease, now formally known as COVID-19, has spread to numerous countries and claimed the lives of over 371k people.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses belong to a large family of viruses that cause illness varying from the common cold to more severe illnesses like (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). Other coronaviruses circulate amongst animals, including bats, camels, and cats. Occasionally, animal coronaviruses might acquire mutations that allow them to infect people and then spread among people. In the year 2002-2003, an outbreak of SARS originating in southern China and it caused around 8k cases across 36 countries, resulting in 700 deaths. Consequently, in the light of the recent outbreak, there is an apparent fear of another such epidemic.
Symptoms of COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people might start to feel symptoms within 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms might include:
- A fever
- A sore throat
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- A cough
- Muscle pain
- New loss of smell or taste
Minor common symptoms might include nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. Yet, no vaccine is currently available for COVID-19. Though, scientists have now replicated the virus. This could concede for early detection and treatment in people who have the virus but do not feel symptoms. They are also known as asymptomatic patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following groups have a much higher risk of contracting a severe illness from COVID-19:
- People aged 60 years or older
- People living in care facilities or nursing homes
- People of any age who have underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, chronic lung disease, severe obesity, serious heart conditions, or a compromised immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that although there have been reports of difficulties in young children, these are quite rare. So far, it has been researched that COVID-19 most commonly produces light symptoms in children.
What Treatments are Available?
A COVID-19 Clinical Trial Tracker open-access globally has been launched to facilitate further greater collaboration between significant stakeholders involved in handling the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 is a viral infection, indicating antibiotics are not a feasible treatment option. As of now, there are currently no anti-viral treatments available. Most of the patients will quickly make a complete recovery without going through any treatment. Those who hold severe infections will be given proper support, such as artificial ventilation or oxygen to keep them alive until they begin to recover fully.
You can reduce your chances of getting infected or spreading COVID-19 by going through some simple precautions directed by the World Health Organization (WHO):
Regularly and completely clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. By washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds will kills viruses that might be on your hands.
- Keep at least 1-meter distance between yourself and others. When someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their mouth or nose, containing droplets of viruses. If you are too close to an infected person, you can breathe in the droplets, and you can get affected by the virus.
- Avoid touching mouth, eyes, and nose. Hands touch many surfaces and can easily pick up viruses. Once your hands get contaminated, it can transfer the virus to your mouth, eyes, or nose. From there, the virus can enter your body, and you will get infected.
- Avoid going to crowded places. Where people come together in overcrowded areas, there are more chances to come into close contact with someone that already has the virus. It isn’t easy to keep a physical distance of 1 meter.
- Follow good respiratory hygiene that means covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or your bent elbow when you sneeze or cough. Then dispose of the used tissue paper immediately and wash your hands properly.
- Stay home and self-isolate even with lesser symptoms like mild fever, cough, headache, until you recover. If you need to leave your home for emergencies, wear a mask to avoid infecting others.
- If you have difficulty while breathing or fever, cough, then immediately seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance and follow the directions of your local health authority. Calling them in advance will allow your health care provider to direct you to the right health facility immediately.
- Keep yourself up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, like WHO or your local and national health authorities. Local and federal authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area must be doing to protect themselves.