The sudden outbreak of a virus known as Coronavirus has gained rapid global attention because of its ability to mass killing and speedy contamination rates worldwide. Wuhan in China is the first victim of the coronavirus disease somewhere in December 2019 and now it is more popular in the name of COVID-19.
Coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses whose infection rate and intensity are very high. It develops in phases and generates with symptoms like a common cold, coughing and breathing shortness. It imitates other common flues and infectious diseases but it is much severe than them as if necessary medical attention and care are not given to the affected patient on the time it can even cause death in a very short span of time.
Now the virus is known as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organization has officially declared this outbreak a pandemic in March 2020. Apart from Wuhan, approx 70 international locations worldwide are now struggling hard with this outbreak including the United States where a noticeable number of COVID-19 disease cases have reported as well as death rates.
To control this pandemic the healthcare departments and research team of all these affected countries are trying hard to cope and defeat this outbreak as soon as it is possible. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO is closely monitoring this pandemic and updating their websites with every new possibility whenever it is identified to control and prevent this outbreak which is a major global concern now.
What is Coronavirus?
The current findings of WHO suggests that COVID-19 is a zoonotic virus. The phylogenetic analysis based on existing full genome sequences determines bats are the reservoir of the COVID-19 virus. However, the intermediate host or hosts are not yet been detected.
The initial cases detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019 suggests that the infection is acquired through zoonotic source as at this point many reports suggest people’s visiting or working in the Wuhan Wholesale Seafood Market. However, as of 25th February 2020, no particular animal source responsible for this virus outbreak has been identified.
Coronavirus or COVID-19 transmits through droplets and fomites from an infected person or infector to a non-infected or infectee during close unprotected contact between them. The COVID-19 has not identified as airborne transmitted disease as per the existing evidence. However, still, its possibility lies under the condition of any sudden aerosol-generating procedures take place in the healthcare provision.
Human to human, the COVID-19 virus transmission is largely reported in families in China. The household transmission range study of this virus is still in its ongoing stage.
As COVID-19 is a new pathogen so there is no pre-existing immunity in the human body to fight off this virus attack. So everyone is susceptible to this infection worldwide. However, the risk factors are high to a particular group of people including older age people and people with special health conditions.
Apart from COVID-19 other human Coronaviruses includes-
- The MERS Virus or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
- The SARS Virus or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (first identified in the Guangdong province in southern China)
The symptoms of COVID-19 are non-specific and its presentation ranges from no symptoms or asymptomatic to severe level pneumonia and even death. As per the several confirmed laboratory cases, some typical signs and symptoms of this pandemic include-
- Dry Cough
- Shortness of breath
- Sputum production
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sore throat
- Myalgia or arthralgia
- Conjunctival congestion
A COVID-19 infected person develops mild respiratory symptoms and fever approx. 5 to 6 days after this infection i.e. incubation period 5-6 days, ranges up to 1 to 14 days. About 80% of laboratory-confirmed patients of COVID-19 disease had developed mild to moderate disease including non-pneumonia and pneumonia, whereas 13.8% of laboratory-confirmed patients have had severe disease including respiratory frequency ≥30/minute, dyspnea, and blood oxygen saturation ≤93%, PaO2/FiO2 ratio 50% of the lung field within 24-48 hours.
6.1% Cases of laboratory-confirmed patients of this infection have had critical diseases including septic shock, respiratory failure, and multiple organ dysfunction/failure. The number of asymptomatic infections is rare and unclear and it is not identified as a major contributor to transmission.
The COVID-19 outbreak is caused by a new coronavirus known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). However, it is not yet clear how contagious is this new coronavirus. As per the recorded data report, this virus spreads mainly from person to person who is in close contact within the range of 6 feet to 2 meters without any protection.
The SARS-CoV-2 spreads through respiratory droplets released when a virus-infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. Apart from this, the virus can also easily spread if an uninfected person touches any surface having a virus on it and thereafter touches his or her eyes, nose and mouth without sanitizing or cleaning their hands with a hand wash or soap.
Initially, humans get this virus from animals contact, reportedly from Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan, China and then spreads humans to human especially in families. However, as of now, health officials have not yet identified clearly that what animals cause COVID-19.
Who are at increased risk?
People aging 80 and above have a greater rate of mortality if they contract SARS-CoV-2 through any source or way, as per the reported data from the trusted source. The mortality rate is higher in men comparing to the women. In this comparison, children have a much lesser risk of contracting this virus. Only approximately 2.4% of total reported cases are identified developing mild diseases in children aging under 19.
The severe cases of this age group (under 19) have reported only 2.5% and critical cases 0.2% of total reported cases as per the trusted health sources. Apart from this, the risk factor of contracting COVID-19 and its associated health complication such as severe disease and death risk increases under the following circumstances-
- People aging over 60
- People with chronic respiratory disease such as Asthma and COPD
- People with cardiovascular disease
- People with severe autoimmune diseases such as HIV
- People with certain kidney and liver diseases which are not well-managed
- People who are struggling with severe obesity.
Apart from these health conditions you are also highly at risk of contracting this virus if you do not maintain proper preventive steps under the following circumstances-
- You are living with people who have contracted this virus.
- Your sexual partner has contracted this virus.
- Recently you have traveled a residence or community in a location where ongoing community spread of this virus is identified by trusted sources such as CDC or WHO.
- You are health care personnel and offering take care to a COVID-19 infected person or taking care of a family member who is diagnosed with this disease.
- You are giving homecare to someone who has contracted this virus.
- In the case of Pregnant women, their health complications risk is identified with other types of viral infections but whether it is the same for the COVID-19 or not it is not yet determined.
Though in most of the cases COVID-19 causes only mild to moderate level symptoms but it can even cause severe health complications and death thereon. Older adults and people with already existing chronic health conditions are more exposed to these serious complications if they contract COVID-19. The complications which can arise after the contraction of this virus include-
- Multiple organs failure at the same time
- Pneumonia in both the lungs
When to Visit a Doctor
If you have developed the symptoms of COVID-19 as mentioned above in this article, or in recent times you have had contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus disease then contact a doctor immediately for necessary medical advice and procedures. Inform your medical care team about all your symptoms and recent possible exposures which can help them in starting the medical procedure and appropriate treatment.
If you have developed the more severe signs and symptoms of COVID-19 which is a medical emergency situation such as chest pain or pressure, difficulty in breathing, blue lips or face, or confusion then seek immediate medical care without making further delay.
Under the cases where someone has respiratory symptoms but has not been in contact with any COVID-19 infected person or any visit in an area with ongoing community spread, should contact the doctor for necessary guidance. While on your visit to the doctor inform them about all pre-existing underlying health conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, etc.
Diagnosis of Coronavirus
Once you start noticing the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 without making further delay you should immediately visit your nearest healthcare center to get necessary consultation with a doctor over there in this regard. It’s better that you make a call before personally visiting the doctor’s office because your prior call can allow the health professionals to collect necessary information beforehand and they can also guide you if you require to do something before your personal visit.
In order to diagnose this infection, the doctor will prescribe for some tests to rule out this condition and also to determine whether you have developed some other common infections or not. The healthcare provider may suggest you to, isolate yourself in order to prevent the spreading risk to your family members and others who are in your close contact. The only way to detect COVID-19 is tests recommended by registered medical professionals.
Remember as of now there are no authorized test kits has invented and recommended to use for the diagnosis of COVID-19 by the healthcare departments. The FDA has ruled out some unauthorized fraudulent test kits for COVID-19 selling by online sites. So be aware of this fraudulence as your health and life are really precious. The only way to detect COVID-19 is guided tests by your healthcare provider.
Currently, there is no specific vaccine or treatment method for curing COVID-19 infection. Usually, the symptoms of this virus attack go away on its own when you isolate yourself and follow the guidelines as recommended by the healthcare professionals.
However, if the symptoms get worsen with time means more than the common mild signs of COVID-19 such as common cold etc then contact your doctor immediately to avoid the risk of the complications. The doctor may prescribe you medications for fever and pain relief.
The FDA is strongly advising to be cautious of the medicals stores and websites that are selling products with the claim that it can prevent, cure or treat the COVID-19 infection. Also do not take any form of chloroquine if it is not advised by your doctor or purchased from a trusted source.
To relieve the effect of cold and flu you can drink plenty of fluids. It's better you drink plain warm water and have plenty of rest. In case you have difficulty breathing then visit the nearest medical care center immediately. Currently, the focus of COVID-19 treatment lies around managing its symptoms as the virus completes its course.
Other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS are also treated by managing their specific symptoms in a person. Some experimental treatment techniques are tested to determine their effectiveness in the treatment of this virus infection which includes-
- Steroids usage to reduce the swellings in lung
- Breathing support such as mechanical ventilation to relieve breathing shortness
- Antiviral or retroviral medications
- Blood plasma transfusion
Wear a facemask every time if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 infection in order to prevent its spreading risk to others. The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask if you have not developed COVID-19.
You can reduce your risk of getting infected with this new coronavirus popular as COVID-19 by following below-mentioned precaution steps-
- Maintain social distancing about 6 feet to 2 meters with everyone, especially if someone is sick or has COVID-19 symptoms.
- Avoid visiting places of mass gatherings or big events as you don’t know who is healthy and who has already contracted this virus in-crowd.
- If COVID-19 is spreading in your community which increases your risk of getting sick then maintain distance with every other known and unknown person in your area.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water whenever you back to your home from outside.
- Do not go out of your home pace if you are having symptoms of cold or flu or feeling sick for no reason.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth, and face if your hands are dirty. Keep a sanitizer with you every time for sanitizing your hands instantly.
- You need to wash your hands too often as guided by the WHO, at least for 20 seconds and more with soap and water, or an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Clean and disinfect the surfaces and objects which are highly in use such as utensils, dishware, phones, computers, doorknobs, etc every day without failing.
- While coughing or sneezing cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or clean tissue for preventing the infection risks to others even though you are not infected. Do not use the already used tissue.
- Stay at your home if you are sick except when you have to visit the medical care center. Also do not use public transports if you are sick.
- It is advised to stay at your home and do your officials work from home. However, if there is an urgency to go out then wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose before going out.
- If you are sick then avoid sharing your belongings such as your glasses, dishes, clothes, and bedding.
In case you have certain chronic medical conditions and have a greater possibility of serious illness then consult with your regular doctor to get their advice regarding how you can protect yourself in some special ways.
COVID-19 is a new pathogen that is extremely contagious having a great risk of spreading quickly in masses with unprotected contact. It has the ability to cause major damages including health, societal and economical impacts in all settings. As there is no vaccine or any specific medical treatment is recognized for the cure or treatment of coronavirus disease so at this point when it is a global concern, only guided preventive measures recommended by the WHO are only medium to cope up with this pandemic.
Don’t be afraid or get panic, simply follow the above-mentioned prevention measures to avoid your contamination risk and visit your nearest doctor immediately if you develop the symptoms of COVID-19 without making further delay.