The COVID-19 is an acronym for CoronaVirus Disease 2019 or simply known as Coronavirus. It belongs to the family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses in humans including the common cold and more severe forms. It can also be termed as a cousin of Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) which are life-threatening. The virus is named Coronavirus as its shape is like the form of a crown with protrusions around it and hence the coronavirus.
It is basically a large group of viruses that mostly affects animals. However, in rare cases, some of the viruses cross the species barrier and can affect humans as well. Such types of viruses are called Zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans.
On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed about strange cases of pneumonia whose cause remained unknown in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Later on 7 January 2020, it came to know that a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was the cause of these pneumonia cases. On 30 January 2020, WHO has officially declared the outbreak a pandemic, as the disease has already spread in more than 100 countries around the world.
What is Pandemic?
A pandemic is a medical emergency that is declared when a new disease, for which people do not have immunity, spreads around the world beyond expectations affecting a huge number of people. WHO is the final authority when something is to be declared Pandemic or Epidemic. Also, there is no threshold, like a certain number of deaths or affected people, or the number of countries affected, that needs to be met.
We have listed the most commonly reported symptoms of Coronavirus below. However, these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. Most of these symptoms are similar to other, relatively less complex, illnesses such as common cold or flu. Whereas, shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.
- Mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Possibly a headache
- Fever (at least 38°C or 100°F)
- Shortness of breath
The last 3 symptoms are reported in all of the patients affected by the COVID-19. For people with a relatively weak immune system (elderly or kids), there is a chance that coronavirus can cause more serious medical issues like pneumonia or bronchitis. We don’t yet know how long it takes for the symptoms to show up after a person has been infected. But current World Health Organization assessments suggest that it is around 2–10 days.
There are a handful of human coronaviruses that are known to be deadly. For example, the Middle East respiratory syndrome, also called as MERS virus, first reported in the Middle East in 2012, causes severe respiratory problems. Three out of every 10 patients infected with MERS died, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, is another type of coronavirus that can also cause severe symptoms. These symptoms included mainly respiratory problems but can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and kidney failure.
Scientists and medical experts believe that COVID-19 is comparatively milder than SARS and MERS. It takes relatively more time to develop symptoms. Reportedly, patients have typically experienced a mild cough for a week followed by shortness of breath, causing them to visit the hospital. So far, around 15% to 20% of cases have become severe requiring ventilation in the hospital. The death toll is also relatively less than that of MERS or SARS viruses.
How CoronaVirus Spreads
Most of the viruses can spread from human contact with animals. Medical experts think that MERS started in camels whereas, in the case of SARS, civet cats were to blame. However, officials do not know yet what animals could have caused the current outbreak of Coronavirus in Wuhan, China. When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person’s secretions. It can range from blood to the saliva droplets in a cough.
In this specific case of COVID-19, it is transmitted through the saliva droplets coming out of an infected person’s mouth. It can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has already touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Careless handling of a patient’s waste can also expose you to this virus.
Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed for the Wuhan coronavirus. Experts are relentlessly trying to crack more details about this virus. However, some questions are still pending their answers like who is transmitting it most? Whether the transmission is occurring in hospitals or in the community? Which animal is the super-carrier of this virus, etc? In the case of SARS and MERS, these were largely transmitted inside hospitals,
This is why it is extremely important to follow good hygiene etiquettes along with frequently washing your hands and thoroughly drying your hands with disposable tissue papers.
Who is at Most Risk
Historically, various types of coronavirus like MERS and SARS caused more severe disease in older people and kids. However, in the case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), limited reports out of China “suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms, and though severe complications have been reported, they appear to be uncommon.” the CDC said. Although there is currently no direct evidence that kids are more susceptible, they should still be familiarized with the best hygiene etiquettes to avoid other infections.
In the case of MERS and SARS, pregnant women have faced more severe implications of the virus. There are cases in which a woman infected with MERS had a stillbirth, a 2014 study showed. SARS-associated illnesses were linked to cases of spontaneous abortion, maternal death and critical maternal illness, a 2004 study found. However, about COVID-19, we are not sure how it affects pregnant women as researches in this regard is already underway. Therefore, it is better if we took preventive measures in advance to avoid this virus at all costs.
Generally, people with weaker immune systems like the elderly, kids and pregnant women are comparatively at higher risk of developing symptoms if affected by any type of Coronavirus.
Here are a few preventive measures that you can take to avoid COVID-19.
Wash your Hands Frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water as it kills viruses that may be on your hands.
To avoid Coronavirus or CONVID-19, make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene practice. This means when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with either your bent elbow or a tissue paper. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. These droplets can spread the virus. If you follow good respiratory hygiene you can protect yourself and other people around you from various viruses such as cold, flu as well as COVID-19.
Please watch the video below that explains how and when to wear protective medical masks.
Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose and Mouth
Your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses from these surfaces. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the COVID-19 virus can enter your body and start effecting your body. We strongly recommend you to get a pack of this Disposable Magic Towel Pill and clean your hands where ever you are.
Maintain a Safe Social Distance
It is recommended that you must maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which can travel a distance of almost 2 feet. These droplets can be affected by the COVID-19 virus. If the other person is infected, and you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets containing the COVID-19 virus.
If you have Symptoms, Seek Medical Help
We have already stated likely symptoms of COVID-19 in paragraphs above. If you feel unwell it is better to stay at home. However, if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, immediately seek medical help by calling the emergency services. It is better to inform them in advance about suspected exposure to coronavirus so they can direct you to the appropriate health facility. This will protect you and also help prevent the spread of this virus.
Follow the Directions of Local and National Health Authorities
It is best if you stay updated on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the directions of your local and national health authorities on how to protect yourself from COVID-19. They will have the most up to date information on whether Coronavirus is spreading in your area. They are best informed to advise you on matters related to COVID-19.
Avoid Unprotected Contact with Sick Animals
Slaughterhouse workers, veterinarians, in-charge of animal and food inspectors, and market workers MUST practice good personal hygiene. They are at higher risk of being infected by this virus. They can easily get themself infected and then become super-carriers to spread this disease further. They must follow all the guidelines given in this guide including frequent hand washing after touching animals and animal products.
Follow Food Safety Procedures
- Never use the same chopping board and knives for raw meat and cooked food. Do not forget to wash your hands between handling raw and cooked food (whatever it is).
- Do NOT eat sick animals and animals that have died because of any disease.
- Even in areas experiencing an outbreak of this disease, meat products can be safely consumed if these items are cooked thoroughly and properly handled during food preparations.
- Only eat thoroughly cooked food. That means DO NOT consume undercooked food like rare, medium-rare or medium-well steaks, etc.
- Do NOT drink untreated water from any sources. We strongly recommend you to get this Miniwell water filter as it can filter out most of the known viruses.
Take Precautionary Measures while Traveling
- Avoid travel if you have a cold, cough or fever.
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms mentioned above, immediately seek medical help and do not forget to share your travel history with your health providers.
- Avoid close contact with people suffering from a cough and fever.
- Frequently clean hands using alcohol-based hand-rub or soap and water.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth with a tissue and throw away that tissue and immediately wash your hands.
- Immediately discard your disposable mask once you have used it and wash your hands after handling that mask.
Regularly Disinfect Surfaces you Touch Frequently
Frequently clean and disinfect the surfaces you touch repeatedly like doorknob your office table and chair, computer keyboard and mouse in your office. These surfaces may gather viruses and once you touch them, they get transferred to your hands and subsequently go into your system.
Stay Home if you Feel Unwell
As we have already stated in previous paragraphs, symptoms of COVID-19 show up after 2-10 days of being infected. So if you feel sick (flu, headache, nausea, etc) Its better to stay indoors. However, if you think the symptoms are getting worse, immediately contact medical authorities and inform them about your issues.
What to Do if you May Have Been Exposed
If you are returning from mainland China, Iran, Italy or the Republic of Korea, or you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should isolate yourself for at least 14 days to keep your communities safe. Similarly, if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact. We know from other outbreaks that self-isolation is effective, and most people are good at keeping themselves – and others – safe and well
As this virus has been discovered very recently, there is no specific treatment available for now. However, researchers are in the early stages of developing one. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking and early medical help. If you feel that the symptoms are worse than a standard cold, immediately see your doctor. Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing pain or fever medication. The CDC says a room humidifier or a hot shower can help with a sore throat or cough. Drink plenty of fluids, get rest and sleep as much as possible.
Since WHO has declared a Pandemic, we all must show the highest levels of responsibility to keep ourselves as well as others safe. Its only solution, for now, is prevention. However, even if you have been exposed, no need to panic. Just call the authorities and seek immediate medical help. Remember, if you practice the best possible hygiene etiquettes, you are already safe from this virus.