Author: Dr. Sukheshni Nand (BDS)
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which was first identified an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China . The case was detected on 31 December 2019 and declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020 by WHO . Illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 was recently termed COVID-19 by the WHO on February 1st 2020 (to avoid stigmatizing the virus's origins in terms of populations, geography, or animal associations) .
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness . Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus . Symptoms could include cough, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea . Emergency warning signs include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, and bluish lips or face. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately .
Anyone can become infected by coming into close contact (less than 2 meters apart) with a person who has the virus. COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person . Transmission of the virus can occur via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also be transmitted by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes .
Currently, there is no specific vaccine for Covid-19, which is why prevention is key .
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
1. Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Reason: to kill viruses that may be on your hands.
2. Maintain at least 2 metre distance between yourself and others.
Reason: If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person near you coughs, sneezes or speaks.
3. Avoid going to crowded places.
Reason: you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COVID-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance in a crowded place
4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Reason: once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you.
5. Follow good respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the used tissue immediately then wash your hands
Reason: By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
6. Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover.
Reason: Avoiding contact with others will protect them from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
7. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority.
Reason: National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
8. Use gloves properly to avoid contaminating yourself and others (be aware of false protection)
a. Follow adequate hand-hygiene before placing the gloves on and on removal to avoid cross-contamination.
b. Avoid touching eye, nose or mouth when having gloves on.
c. Make sure gloves aren’t ripped, soiled or discolored
d. Do not reuse gloves
9. Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities.
Reason: Local and national authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves
Use of masks
Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.
Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Masks should not substitute hand washing and social distancing
The best guard against airborne viruses are known as N95 masks. However, are limited in supply and should be reserved for health workers and first responders
Therefore, it is important to know that corona-virus is a disease of high importance, which needs to be addressed properly with the correct measures in order to avoid mass number of infections in the population. Proper control and hygiene measures need to be adopted by individuals to combat this viral disease. While you must remain apart from others, you do not have to be socially isolated. Reach out to friends and family via phone or video chat often. Doing so can help remind you that we are all in this together, and you are not alone. Following precautions will go a long way toward helping oneself avoid a number of common illnesses, not just Covid-19. Therefore, protect yourself and prevent the spread of this virus in your community by adopting these simple habits.
1. Centres of disease control and prevention (CDC). Symptoms of Coronavirus. 2019
2. Centres of disease control and prevention (CDC). What you should know about COVID-19 to protect yourself and others. Coronavirus factsheet. 2019
3. Medscape. David J Cennimo. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). 2020
4. (World Health Organization. Coronavirus. 2020)
5. WebMD. Coronavirus Face Masks: What You Should Know. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/lung/coronavirus-face-masks#1
6. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. 2020