By Dr. Jalpreet Kaur
The global community is amidst a medical and economic crisis of epic proportions, the COVID-19. An avalanche of information regarding global deaths, medical jargon, and worldwide lockdowns is streaming into our homes. In this confusing situation, things need to be simplified for the common person.
It stands for CORONA VIRUS DISEASE 2019. The causative organism is a virus of Corona family with a novel mutation ie n-COV or SARS-COV-2. First reported in Wuhan, China in late 2019, this pneumonia-like illness was declared a pandemic by WHO on 11 March 2020.
Why is COVID-19 spreading so rapidly globally?
Since it is a new virus we have no inbuilt immunity or man-made vaccine to prevent infection. The majority of infected individuals show no symptoms so they can infect others without even knowing it. This creates a vicious cycle of propagation of the infection chain, leading to the phenomenal number of cases in a short span of time.
Why is COVID-19 a global health emergency?
Out of every 100, infected people about 20 will need hospital care. Out of the hospitalized,5% might need ICU/ventilator support, and 1% might still succumb to death. These are staggering numbers, and health care systems are collapsing worldwide
What are the symptoms?
Fever, cough, fatigue, body ache, breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are the most common symptoms.
However “No Symptom” is seen in the majority of carriers,and they are the biggest source of community spread.
How does COVID-19 spread?
It is a “droplet infection” but not an “airborne infection.” So it spreads through cough/sneeze droplets from an infected person, but the virus can’t survive in air independently. Objects contaminated with infectious droplets are known as “fomites” and touching them spreads the virus even without direct contact with the infected person.
Who is at higher risk?
Elderly, the immunocompromised, people with pre-existing medical illnesses and those on steroid treatment are few high-risk groups.
What is the treatment?
There is NO specific treatment currently.
Can I get vaccinated for protection?
There is NO vaccine available currently.
How to Protect Yourself?
- The best strategy is to “stay at home”.
- In public places, practice “social-distancing” ie stay 6feet away from each other.
- Avoid contact with sick people. Wear a mask if you have to take care of the sick family members.
- Frequent and thorough hand washing for at-least 20sec with soap and water. Use hand-sanitizer with 60%alcohol if soap/water is not available.
- Avoid frequent touching of nose, mouth, eyes especially with unwashed hands.
- Refrain from social gestures like handshakes, hugs, and kissing.
- Practice “respiratory hygiene” ie use a tissue/hanky to cough/sneeze or do it into your elbow. Discard the tissue in the trash and immediately wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, phones, toilets, electric switches.
- Corona virus doesn’t spread through animals, mosquitoes, or eating non-veg food.
- Home-remedies, like eating garlic, drinking hot water, rinsing the nose with saline, will not kill the virus.
- Drinking alcohol will not kill the virus.
- UV lamps, alcohol/chlorine body sprays, hand-dryers, and hot baths don’t sterilize against Corona virus.
What to do if I get sick?
- Again “stay at home” except to get medical care because 80% of infected people recover by themselves with rest, paracetamol, and a good diet.
- Stay in touch with your doctor.
- Practice “home isolation” by staying in a separate room, using the separate toilets, and not sharing household items.
- Wear a face mask and practice all safety guidelines.
- Avoid touching pets at home.
What to do if I have traveled abroad?
Don’t hide your travel history and follow home isolation even if you have no symptoms.
Pregnant women and COVID-19.
There is no current evidence of increased risk of infection to pregnant women or newborns.
Infected lactating mothers can express breast milk by clean hands or breast pumps, which can be fed to the baby by a healthy caregiver. Temporary isolation of an infected mother and newborn is recommended.
Staying sane in the lockdown.
It is easy to have negative thoughts during such tough times. Keep yourself occupied with activities like yoga, aerobics, reading. Communicate with children to allay their anxiety and create a positive family atmosphere. So don’t panic, follow the government guidelines, and let your motto be, “stay at home and save the world.”