Understanding the Novel Coronavirus
Novel Coronavirus or Covid-19 took its roots in the Chinese district of Wuhan towards the end of 2019, where it reported the first outbreak. Since then, the virus has spread at alarming speed across the globe, crossing oceans and continents to become the largest pandemic that the world has seen since the Influenza Flu outbreak in 1918.
Scientists from all over the world have been studying this new strain of the SARS-Coronavirus, trying to find a cure or vaccine that could effectively wipe out the last of it. Although we are yet to strike gold there, here are a few things that we do know for sure about the virus and its effects.
Covid-19 is a highly contagious disease that can severely cause damage to your lungs and airways. The virus has an incubation period which varies widely from person to person but is usually between 5 to 10 days from the first contact. During this period, it attacks the cells lining your throat and lungs where it lingers and breeds millions of new viruses that spread to the rest of your body. This is the initial stage with mild symptoms and most people infected with viruses usually overcome this stage with or without the help of medication. But as the disease progresses, the body’s immune system starts overreacting to the virus leading to inflammations throughout the body. In severe cases, the malfunctioning immune systems give in to the exploding number of viruses, causing permanent damages to internal organs which could be fatal.
The Coronavirus is mainly transmitted through the droplets that spray when an infected person sneezes, coughs or simply exhales. Which is why patients and suspected carriers are advised to wear masks at all times, especially when interacting with another person. These virus-containing droplets can fall on floors and surfaces where they remain alive for anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks, depending on the surface. You could contract these viruses if you happen to touch any of these surfaces or be in close proximity with the patients.
The symptoms developed by Covid-19 patients differ largely depending on their age, prevailing health conditions and region. But some of the most common symptoms that patients exhibit in mild to moderate severity are
- Dry cough
- In many cases, patients have also been noted to experience
- Body aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
Unfortunately, no specific treatment or vaccines have been developed for Covid-19 to date. The doctors can prescribe you medicines that can give relief to the symptoms while the body continues to fight against the virus. However, if you feel sick you should get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. It is important to practice self-care and isolate yourself from your family and the society so that the disease does not spread.
Let’s Stop the Spread
Here are some of the steps to follow to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect yourself and your family from it.
- Wash your hands as often as possible for 20 seconds using warm water and soap, especially once you reach back home.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when out purchasing essentials or doing essential chores.
- Stay home as much as possible and step outside only when necessary.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who shows symptoms or has expressed doubts.
- Wear face masks (disposable or cloth made) when stepping outside.
- Maintain a safe distance in public from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands.
- If you have to sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or a tissue.
- In case of mild fever, cough or difficulty in breathing, reach out to your healthcare service provider.
- Follow the guidelines instructed by your local health department.
- Avoid public transport, social gatherings and other public places like malls, restaurants, parks etc.
Covid-19 Myth Busters
Since this virus is relatively new and we are still figuring out ways to overcome it, it is only natural that there are a lot of misconceptions about the disease. During these troublesome times, it is imperative that we gather the right information about the virus and dispel any wrong notions that could do more harm to our already fragile society. Here are a few myths about the novel Coronavirus that seems to have caught on.
Myth 1: Just Another Flu
The symptoms that mark the onset of the Covid-19 disease have lead many to believe that this too like any other flu. And they are not entirely wrong because like in case of the flu, Covid-19 patients too experience a rise in body temperature, dry cough and sneezing and sore throats, along with body aches and diarrhoea. But what we need to understand is that over time we have been able to develop a vaccine for the flu and have more awareness about the virus causing it. Covid-19, on the other hand, is new to us and we are not sure we fully understand how to treat it yet, which makes it more deadly and dangerous. According to the WHO the number of reported deaths due to Covid-19 divided by the reported cases is between 3% and 4%. In comparison, the mortality for seasonal flu tends to be below 0.1%.
Myth 2: The disease affects only the old people
Recent reports have shown that a large number of people who succumbed to Covid-19 were people over the age of 65. This has led to a widespread misconception that the novel coronavirus affects only the old. This is not true. Although older people who have weaker immunity are at greater risk for complications due to Covid-19, the younger generation isn’t entirely safe. Young people who are overweight or have unmanaged diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease are also known to have developed complications that have proven fatal. Doctors say that although a person who is below the age of 60 is less likely to contract the disease, there has been enough number of cases where younger patients have become critically ill or needed extraordinary amounts of medical care and resources. So as far the virus is concerned, age is really just a number.
Myth 3: We need a Vaccine not Treatments
The world’s greatest medical minds are all up round the clock trying to develop an effective vaccine for the novel Coronavirus, but reports say that we are still a long way from realistically developing one. Meanwhile, many people seem to believe that there is absolutely nothing to be done until then. And that is another misconception that is rampant on the internet. In fact, researchers believe that creating potential medicines to treat Covid-19 symptoms is something that requires just as much focus. It is only through developing new treatment procedures that doctors and scientists can understand the nature of the virus more comprehensively and address each of its dangerous symptoms.
Myth 4: People Created the Virus
The novelty of the situation that the virus has inflicted upon people combined with a sense of insecurity it has created, has caused many to view the Covid-19 as some form of man-made weapon of mass destruction. While there are many conspiracy theories out there trying to justify and rationalize these claims, it is important to understand that human beings are biological beings co-existing in a world with other biological beings who are just as capable as us of developing new diseases and infections and sometimes spreading them interspecies. According to scientists, in the bat population alone there exists viruses that can potentially cause deadlier pandemics in the future. The sooner we accept the vulnerability of our position the sooner we will be able to develop new ways of peaceful co-existence with other creatures sharing this world with us.