What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the official name of the disease caused by the new Coronavirus.
Coronavirus are enveloped virus, carrying crown like spikes which gives them the appearance of solar corona.
The virus originated in Wuhan city of China & the first case was identifed on
01 December 2019.
As of March 24, 2020- 16,767 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 globally. However, 101,987 people have recovered from the illness.
How does COVID-19 virus spread?
The COVID-19 virus spreads through the respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze or through droplets of saliva or discharges from the nose.
If a person touches a surface or object that has been infected by the virus and then touches his own mouth, nose, or eyes, he may contract the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 ?
Does everyone who contracts the disease has the same symptoms?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 are acute and serious respiratory illness with fever, cough, and breathing difficulty. Sore throat, Running nose and diarrhoea have also been reported in some patients.
As with many infections, symptoms can vary among those infected with COVID-19. Not everyone will have a fever but most patients will have cough & upper respiratory symptoms like a cold.
Can COVID-19 virus spread through the air and on surfaces? Does the COVID-19 virus lives on surfaces for 48-72 hours?
Everytime an infected person sneezes, coughs or even speak, they expel tiny droplets of air. Those droplets are either inhaled by others (if they are in very close contact) or the droplets land on nearby surfaces.
Since the virus can survive outside the human body for 48-72 hours someone else can contract the virus by contact with those surfaces. And it is for this reason we should never touch contaminated surfaces such as doorknobs, desk etc.
Also, disinfection of all high touch surfaces are extremely important to avoid transmission of the virus.
If symptoms of COVID-19 does not appear immediately, does that mean you are not infected?
No. Infact, symptoms are likely to take several days (2 to 14 days) to appear and you are highly likely to be spreading the disease even before you know you are sick.
That is why social distancing is so important even for those who feel healthy.
How can we protect ourselves against COVID-19 ?
As simple as it sounds, washing hands with soap and water are the best approach to prevent the spread of the virus and even the temperature of the water when washing does not matter.
When washing hands with soap & water, it’s really the mechanical scrubbing action that’s cleaning your hands.
You have to make sure you wash/scrub long enough at least for 20 seconds & completely dry your hands.
You can also clean your hands frequently with alcohol based hand sanitizers with 60% or more of alcohol by volume.
Always cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (which should then be disposed of immediately) or with a sleeve.
Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
What is Social distancing?
As Social distancing is the best infection control action intended to slow the spread of disease by minimizing close contact between individuals,
The Prime Minister of India had announced a total lockdown across the country, asking people to “forget about stepping out of their homes” for the next three weeks.
One should maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
This is because when someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus.
Do masks protect against COVID-19 ?
Yes. But appropriate use and disposal of masks is absolutely necessary to maintain the efficacy and reduction of transmission of the virus.
Wearing a mask when you are not sick essentially gives you a false sense of confidence that you don’t need to wash your hands as often, and because masks can be uncomfortable you may actually touch your face more.
In addition, contamination can occur when masks are taken off & put back on.
So, just keep it simple & leave the face masks for the healthcare workers (front liners) or sick people who truly need them.
Who are all affected by COVID-19?
All age groups are affected but the maximum proportion of people who have died from COVID-19 is in the age of 80+.
So, young, healthy adults are safe and shouldn’t be concerned about contracting the virus?
No one is totally safe. While we are most concerned about the elderly and those with chronic health problems, young people are affected as well.
What is the treatment for COVID-19 ?
To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19.
In any case, one should NOT self medicate with any medicine including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19.
Application of timely, effective & safe supportive therapies is the cornerstone of therapy for patients that develop severe manifestions of COVID-19.
Home remedies, Herbal & Chinese treatments are not proven.
Is there a vaccine yet for COVID-19 ?No.
There are 20-30 vaccines in development & the first testing in humans of an experimental vaccine began in mid March 2020.
Such rapid development of a potential vaccine is not known before, but even if it is proved safe and effective, it probably will not be available for the next 12 to 18 months.
Will the COVID-19 virus die off once the temperature rises like the other flu viruses?
Although COVID-19 can present similar respiratory problems like flu virus, it is different from the virus strains that cause the Flu.
From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in
all areas , including areas with hot and humid weather. So, adopt to protective measures regardless of the climate.
Can COVID-19 mutate into a much dangerous strain?
A mutation is a change in the genetic material of the virus.
All viruses mutate over time and COVID-19 is no different.
Many mutations in viruses are silent and some can even lead to a strain that is less fit with less threat.
It is very unlikely for COVID-19 to develop a mutation that makes it deadlier.
Can drinking water every 15 minutes reduce your risk of contracting the virus?
Although drinking water can help with dehydration, no evidence shows it will protect against contracting COVID-19.
However, it is very important to stay both hydrated and well rested when recovering from any infection.
Does gargling with warm water or salt & vinegar or hot water baths eliminate the virus our system?
Hot water gargling & baths are great, but their benefits are probably only comfort related. They cannot prevent COVID-19 .
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through mosquito bites?
To date, there is no information nor evidence that the COVID-19 could be transmitted by mosquitoes.
The COVID-19 is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes or through droplets of saliva or discharges from the nose.
What will happen if one does not obey the 21 days lockdown rules?
Any person disobeying any regulation or order made by the government under the Epidemic Diseases Act shall be punishable for a term of 6 months with/without penalty under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
IPC Section 188 :Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.
Should I take the 21 days lockdown seriously?
Staying home for 21 days can be inconvenient and could compromise our way of life but everyone has a responsibility — not only to protect themselves, but to protect their friends, family, neighbors, and community.
This is time for young people to step down and not be a vector for the virus & protect the most vulnerable by strictly practicing social distancing.
**Article compiled by a medical doctor who graduated from Davao Medical School Foundation, Philippines.
He can be found at Email – [email protected] or Facebook – Vijaya Baskar Murugan.