Coronaviruses are six groups of viruses classified under the family Coronavidae. The predominant types are the common cold, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The viruses are common among animals like pigs, cats, and bats. Humans can also contract them from such animals.
Currently, the world is facing a dangerous threat to humanity due to the rapid transmission and spread of this virus. Lab technicians and researchers are working round the clock in a bid to find the cure for this disease. Doctors, nurses, and janitors are also currently trying their best to treat those infected by this novel virus.
This article gives a brief overview of the new pandemic, its symptoms, the prevention measures, and everything else you need to know. Please scroll down to find out.
You might be asking yourself: how did the World Health Organization come up with the name COVID-19? This is just an acronym for the name, and the year it was first noticed. ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ stands for virus, ‘D’ for disease, and ’19’ for 2019- the year it was first noticed.
The disease falls under SARS, which is a branch of the broader human coronavirus (H-CoV). Scientists argue that the deadly infection originated from bats through sequential mutations and adaptations. In the process of the spillover, it finally acquired the ability to infect humans.
Human-to-human infection confirmed the virus’s ability to rapidly mutate, thus raising a red flag in the health fraternity. The disease was first identified in Wuhan China in December 2019. Health officials believe that an illegally run seafood market in Wuhan was the inception point. Researchers say that the virus might have spread to humans from infected seafood species.
The human-to-human transmission may occur through droplets or contact with an infected person. Without proper personal protective equipment, even the health workers’ health may hang in the balance.
Since its inception, one thing led to another until the situation got out of hand, with no validated treatment available. But that was never an excuse for health workers and researchers. The WHO says that consultations are underway from all parts of the globe in a bid to find a vaccine for this pandemic. We understand that some drugs are also under testing with the hope of finding a lasting solution.
The World Health Organization gives a rough estimate of 3.4% as the rate of mortality for the disease. Even though the mortality rate for 2019-nCov is relatively low, that’s something we cannot take pride in. Remember, the virus keeps mutating, and this can be a real hassle to health workers since they have no experience.
In the meantime, several states have introduced a series of stringent measures in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some of the steps, which are also applauded by WHO, include:
- The imposition of curfews and total lockdowns
- closure of all learning institution
- Stay/Work from home decrees
- Cancellation of international flightsBans of public gatherings
- Closure of all entertainment hubs and sports clubs
These measures have far-reaching economic impacts, but it is the only way of containing this pandemic, sooner than later. Some countries have enacted more extreme measures like barring non-citizens from entering the country, and even evacuating their citizens from abroad.
As of now, China has managed to contain the local person-to-person transmission of the virus.
Reports indicate that the numbers of the newly infected have significantly dropped, and the few emerging cases being imported ones.
European countries like Italy, Spain, and the UK have now become the new epicenter of the epidemic. Reported cases and fatalities in the US have also surged abnormally. Africa, on the other hand, has also reported a few cases, though not as many as in the other parts of the globe.
Symptoms of COVID-19
What are the symptoms, and when should you see a doctor?
According to WHO, symptoms of the novel virus emerge between two to fourteen days from the time of infection. However, some infected patients may exhibit asymptomatic characteristics. This means that they may not display the symptoms, although they have the disease. If you are severely affected, the symptoms will show within four to six days.
Below are some of the most common symptoms:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shortness of breath
If you are severely infected, such symptoms as diarrhea, runny nose, and acute body pains may show. In worst-case scenarios, COVID-19 may lead to pneumonia, multiple-organ damage, and death.
Experts advise that you stay home for at least seven days should you notice the symptoms as mentioned above. If you live with your family, you should isolate yourself in a separate room.
Those who have underlying health complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, etc., are at high risk of contracting the disease. The elderly also falls under this bracket.
A recent study established that the primary symptoms of the disease are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. After a considerable period, other symptoms like breathing difficulty and muscle pain emerge. In rare cases, some patients may experience nausea and diarrhea.
Even though the old and those with the underlying conditions are more exposed, more cases of healthy people and young adults have also been reported. How do we explain this?
People between 30 to 50 years are believed to contract the disease due to a condition called cytokine storm. This is an immune reaction where the body produces immune cells and proteins that may destroy other organs, leading to the death of the host.
Prevention of 2019-nCov
They say that prevention is better than cure, and this is so accurate, especially now that the experts are still trying to find a lasting solution. So, how do you protect yourself from the disease? Here is a step by step breakdown of everything you need to do to stay safe.
- Frequent cleaning of the hands
This is the primary prevention measure, whether you’re at high risk or not. The two proven methods of cleaning the hands are; washing with clean water and soap or cleaning with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- 1-meter distance
If at all you must interact with people, you should maintain at least a 1-meter distance between you and the next person.
- Evade touching your face
This is arguably the most challenging measure to obey. But would you rather fight for your life in the intensive care unit (ICU)? I bet not.
- Maintain good personal hygiene and etiquette
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing will keep you safe. Use a flexed elbow, a handkerchief, or a one-use tissue to execute this measure.
- Refrain from any activity that jeopardizes your immunity
Smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and poor nutrition are examples of immunity risk factors. When your immunity is weak, the body may be susceptible to diseases that you would otherwise have prevented. Please avoid such risk factors as long as this pandemic last.
- Social distancing
You may not know the carrier of the virus without proper tests. Interacting with large crowds puts you at a higher risk alert. Avoid unnecessary travel and large groups of people as much as possible. If you MUST get out of your home, ensure you put on protective masks and avoid contacts at all costs.
- Protective equipment
This is essential, especially from health workers, because they are at high risk of contracting the disease from the infected patients. The World Health Organization and well-wishers lead the distribution of the protective gears to the developing nations.
Strictly abiding by these measures is the ultimate way to go if we mean to curb the spread of COVID-19. But most importantly, staying at home is safer since there’ll be no chance of externally importing the disease.
Treatments – Is there a Validated Cure for Coronavirus?
As of now, there is no validated vaccine, drug, or treatment for coronavirus. Do not get duped by malicious con-artists. However, clinical trials are underway, and possible vaccines and drugs are under testing through the coordination of WHO.
Health officers base their treatments on supportive care- the kinds of medications given to influenza and other respiratory illnesses patients. This is informed by the fact that most symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those for respiratory infections
Reputable bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working closely with the WHO in a bid to find an ultimate cure and vaccine for the disease. Government and private laboratories around the globe are also doing their part. But for now, we’ll have to rely on supportive care treatments as it has proved to work in several cases.
Contracting the disease is not a life sentence. Give deaf ears to the fake news and stigmatizing statements surrounding coronavirus. Provided you practice the recommended preventive precautions like frequently cleaning hands, social distancing, and keeping good personal hygiene, you won’t bear any risks of infecting the disease. But most importantly- Stay Home, Stay Safe!
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