I’m sure most of you who are stuck inside their homes because of COVID 19 have many questions about this pandemic.
Even if you or any of your family members are not infected yet, you would still be curious to know what this mysterious disease is all about. And why not? After all, this pandemic is now an international public health emergency; something that has never been seen before and in many ways, it has completely changed the world.
So, here are the answers to some of the key questions that you might have in your mind about COVID 19.
1. Why it’s called coronavirus disease?
The word corona refers to the crown in Latin. The COVID19 (stands for coronavirus disease 2019) is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). This virus has crown-like structures on its surface, which is why the virus is named coronavirus; and so the disease is normally called the coronavirus disease.
Other well-known viruses that have similar crown-like structures include SARS-CoV-1 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus).
2. What’s the current status of this disease?
COVID 19 is a growing health concern throughout the world. This pandemic is still ongoing and as of today (April 11, 2020), there are over 1.7 million confirmed cases around the world and more than 100 thousand people have already died because of it. With every passing day, the number of infected people is increasing exponentially.
Besides the health crisis, this pandemic has caused very serious socioeconomic impacts around the world; which is why the United Nations has declared it the world’s ‘‘most challenging crisis’’ since World War II.
3. How did it start?
Researchers think that the COVID19 originally came from bats. Among the bats, the coronavirus was circulating, during which it became mutated and transferred to the pangolin animals. It further mutated in pangolins and then started infecting humans and causing disease in them. The disease outbreak started in the WUHAN city of China in December 2019 but has since spread rapidly around the world.
4. Who are more susceptible to this disease?
Initially, it was thought that old people are more susceptible to this disease. However, due to an increase in the number of young adults and young children tested positive for COVID 19, it is now realized that this virus doesn’t discriminate and can infect anyone regardless of age.
It is important to note that this disease is more fetal in those who have underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.
5. How does it spread?
COVID 19 is highly contagious, meaning it spread very rapidly among people. It mainly spread through physical contact (like handshaking) and small droplets come from the cough or sneeze of an infected person. When these droplets landed on the nose, eyes, or mouth of another person, the virus gets a chance to enter the body of a new person and cause infection.
6. How should I know that I have this disease?
The most common symptoms of this disease include dry cough, sore throat, tiredness, fever, and shortness of breath. If you experience these problems, there is a high chance that you have been infected by COVID 19.
However, the recent clinical data suggests that 60% of COVID 19 cases don’t show any symptoms. While these asymptomatic people don’t get sick, they can be the main source of spreading this virus to other healthy individuals.
7. Can I be cured if I get this disease?
Unfortunately, there is no cure available for this disease at the moment. There has not been developed a vaccine yet that could fight the COVID 19 and cure you of this illness.
8. If it’s not curable, how can I be treated?
The majority (over 80%) of COVID 19 patients develop mild or no symptoms at all. It’s very likely that you can be among those patients and therefore don’t need any treatment.
Even if you develop symptoms (like cough, sore throat, tiredness, and fever), you can improve your symptoms with non-prescription medicines available at pharmacies. But make sure you stay at home and keep yourself isolated to avoid infecting other family members.
Hospitalization is needed when you see that your symptoms are not improving and you are experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. In that case, call an ambulance to your house and it will take you to a nearby hospital.
9. How should I get myself prevented from getting this disease?
As stated by Dr. Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, during her press briefing at the White House;
“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviours.”
Yes, it’s just behaviours that protect you from COVID 19 and nothing else at the moment.
So, what are those behaviours?
Practice social distancing
Social distancing is the first line of defense against COVID 19 infection. That means you need to avoid all unnecessary social contacts; whether it’s going to restaurants, pubs, sporty events or even inviting your close friends to your house for coffee. And of course, ‘‘handshaking’’.
If you’re outside at the grocery store or in the park for a short walk or run, keep a distance of 2 meters from others.
Social distancing not only protects you from this virus but it also stops spreading it and helps in reducing the pressure on healthcare services; this is why one-third of the world population is under some sort of lockdown these days.
To avoid the chances of getting this disease, you would need to self-quarantine for at least 2 weeks. This is especially recommended if you are over age 60 or with a chronic illness, or you have been in close contact with a person who has been tested positive for COVID 19. This is the most effective way of not being infected yourself or others with this disease.
Follow basic personal hygiene habits
- Wash your hands more often with soap for at least 20 seconds.
YES: WASH YOUR HANDS!!
- Wear a facemask if you are around other people. This may not necessarily protect you but it can protect others if you are sick.
- Disinfect your hands and touch surfaces frequently with sanitizers or 70% ethanol.
10. When will this pandemic end?
A vaccine is the most effective way of bringing this pandemic to an end. Researchers have identified 40 vaccine candidates and some of these are already under clinical trials.
While companies are doing their best to develop a vaccine and make it available for the public in record time, at least in a year, researchers think that this war against COVID 19 is a lengthy one and it may take years to completely get rid of this virus.
Disclaimer: The information shared here should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions presented here are not intended to treat any health conditions. For your specific medical problem, consult with your health care provider.