The globally rampant coronavirus or COVID-19 which has spread like wildfire in over 80 countries, has now ushered positive cases in India. This novel contagion has claimed thousands of lives worldwide with currently 28 confirmed cases in our country. The panic is anticipated, the anxiety is valid. As the virus spreads, our unresolved doubts and unanswered questions can make us feel more fearful than ever. But remember this– being afraid won’t help you deal with this infectious outbreak, knowledge and precautions will.
What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus or Covid 19?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan province, China, the origin of which has been speculated to be zoonotic (reservoir being bats), meaning it can be transmitted from live animals to humans. The novel coronavirus (nCoV) has not been previously identified in humans and can cause a multitude of illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute respiratory illness, kidney failure and even death. The rapid spread of the virus has led to the outbreak being declared as a public health emergency of international concern.
How does coronavirus spread?
It can be transferred from an infected person through close contact with bodily fluids
Coronavirus infection can be contracted via small droplets of bodily fluids such as saliva or mucus from the nose or mouth which is spread when the infected person exhales, sneezes or coughs.
It can spread via touch
You can catch the coronavirus if you touch objects or surfaces that have these droplets, and the consequently touch parts of your face or eyes. Hence hand hygiene is important.
Other than transmission through droplets and fomites, a new study has suggested that the patients can shed this contagion via faecal-oral or body fluids.
When should you worry?
The incubation period for the virus to cause the illness can be anywhere between 1-14 days.
If you are experiencing fever, cough, headache, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties then you should definitely visit a doctor for a check-up. During the counselling, let the doctor know if you have travelled to a COVID-19 infested place or have been in contact with someone who has travelled to such location and is experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Additional precautions need to be taken if these symptoms are seen in persons over the age of 40, and especially if they have comorbidities such as diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, hypertension, previous respiratory ailments.
How does one get tested for coronavirus infection?
About 15+ labs have been established for coronavirus testing all across the country. Blood tests, throat and anal swab tests, sputum tests, nasal aspirate and tracheal aspirate examination are conducted in order to detect the virus.
Can thermal scanners help in detecting the coronavirus infection?
Yes. Thermal scanners are effective in detecting coronavirus infection. It can detect people who have a fever or high temperature due to the new coronavirus infection. But the downside is that it cannot detect infected people who are not yet sick with a fever. The reason is that newly infected people take at least 2-10 days to develop a fever.
Can the coronavirus kill?
The novel coronavirus affects all age groups, and the infection can range from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoV (SARS CoV), the latter two having more case fatality rate than the former.
However, most people whose deaths were caused due to the coronavirus infection had pre-existing diseases and comorbidities or had a weak immune system or simply worse overall health. Therefore, the risk of coronavirus being fatal depends on the strength or weakness of your immunity and respiratory system.
Can the coronavirus be killed?
There are many running myths that say coronavirus can be killed by certain products. It has been said that the virus can be killed by hand-dryers, UV lamps, alcohol, sesame oil and herbal remedies like garlic or clove. WHO has advised that these myths are baseless, and the virus cannot be killed either way.
There is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine as of now to prevent or treat COVID-19.
It is advised that you do not panic. Combat the fear through information and precaution. When detected on time, coronavirus can be treated. Please follow good personal hygiene, local safety measures and consult a doctor when experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness.