What Is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 that can activate what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can infect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs).
It spreads the same way as other coronaviruses , usually through person-to-person contact. Infections can be mild or fatal.
SARS-CoV-2 is one of seven types of coronavirus, including the ones that cause severe and deadly diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The other coronaviruses cause most of the colds that affect us during the year but are not so serious threatening ei for otherwise healthy people.
Is there more than one strain of SARS-CoV-2?
A Chinese study of 103 COVID-19 cases found two strains, which are named as L and S. The S is older strain but the L type was more common in initial stages of the outbreak. They think one may cause more cases of the disease than the other, but they are still working on what it all means. It is also common for a virus to mutate, as it infects people and this virus has done so. There are so many variants which have been named on the basis of regions they were first discovered but they have now spread to other areas and countries..
How long will the coronavirus last?
There’s no way to know when the pandemic will end .There are several factors, which include researchers or doctors work to learn more about the virus, their research for a treatment, the success and efficacy of the vaccines, and the people efforts to reduce it’s transmission.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The main symptoms include:
- difficulty breathing
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Body pain
- Sore throat
- Congestion/runny nose
- Loss of smell or taste
The virus can also cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, heart problems, liver problems, septic shock, and death. Many COVID-19 complications may be caused by a condition called as cytokine release syndrome or a cytokine storm. This is when an infection activates your immune system to release inflammatory proteins called as cytokines in the bloodstream. They can kill tissue and damage your organs.
If you feel the following severe symptoms in yourself or your family, get medical help right away:
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- chest pain or feeling of pressure in chest
- New confusion
- Can’t wake up completely
- Bluish lips and face
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 are following:
- Face. Is one side of the person’s face is numb or drooping? Is their smile lopsided?
- Arms. Is one arm weak or numb? If they try to raise both arms, does one arm sag?
- Speech. Their speech is clear on not? Ask them to repeat a sentence.
- Time. Every minute is important when someone shows signs of a stroke.
If you are infected, symptoms can visible in as few as 2 days or as many as 14. It differs from person to person.
According to researchers in China, these were the most common symptoms among people who had COVID-19 includes:
- Fever 99%
- Fatigue 70%
- Cough 59%
- Lack of appetite 40%
- Body aches 35%
- Shortness of breath 31%
- Mucus/phlegm 27%
Some people who are hospitalized for COVID-19 have also have threatening blood clots, in their legs, lungs, and arteries.
What to do if you think you have it
If you live in or have traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spreading:
- If you don’t feel well, stay home. Even if you have mild symptoms like a headache and runny nose, stay quarentined until you feel better. This helps doctors to focus on people who are more serious and protects health care workers and people you might meet along the way. Try to stay in a separate room away from other people in your home.
- Call the doctor if you have trouble breathing. You need to get medical help immediately. If you don’t have a regular doctor, call your local board of health. They can suggest you where to go for testing and treatment.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and keep up with the news on COVID-19. By doing so,you will easily defeat the disease.
How do I know if it’s COVID-19, a cold, or the flu?
Symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to a bad cold or the flu. Your doctor will doubt COVID-19 if:
- You have a fever and a cough.
- You have been exposed to people who are infected within the last 14 days.
Causes of the New Coronavirus
Researchers are not sure what is the reason behind it. There’s more than one type of coronavirus. They’re common in people and in animals including bats, camels, cats, and cattle. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,which is similar to MERS and SARS. They all came in human from bats.
Coronavirus Risk Factors
Anyone can get infected from COVID-19, and most of the infections are mild. The older you age, the higher your risk of severe illness.(2)
You also a have greater chance of serious illness if you have one of the following health complications:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lower immune system because of an organ transplant
- Over weight
- Serious heart conditions like heart failure or coronary artery disease(CAD)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Type 2 diabetes
Conditions that could cause severe COVID-19 illness are:
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Diseases that affect your blood vessels and blood flow to your brain
- Cystic fibrosis
- Lower immunity because of a blood or bone marrow transplant, HIV, or medications like corticosteroids
- Liver disease
- Damaged lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis)
- Type 1 diabetes
How does the coronavirus spread?
Most of the time, it spreads through coughing or sneezing of the infected person. They can release droplets as far as 6 feet away. If you breathe them in or swallow them, the virus can enter into your body. Some people who have the infection but don’t have symptoms, they can still spread the virus.
You can also get the virus from touching a surface or object the where virus is present, then touching your mouth, nose, or probably your eyes. Most viruses can live for several hours on a surface that they land on. A study shows that SARS-CoV-2 can last for several hours on various surfaces:
- Copper: 4 hours
- Cardboard: up to 24 hours
- Plastic or stainless steel: 2 to 3 days
That’s why it’s necessary to disinfect surfaces to get rid of the virus.
Some dogs and cats have tested positive for the virus. A few have shown signs of illness. There’s no proof that humans can get this coronavirus from an animal, but it appears it can be passed from humans to animals.
What is community spread?
Doctors and health officials use this term when they don’t know the source of the infection. With COVID-19, it generally means someone who get infected with the virus even though they haven’t been travelled out of the country or haven’t been exposed or came in contact to someone who’s traveled abroad or who has this infection.
How contagious is the coronavirus?
The transmission rate is relatively very high. Initial research has estimated that one person who has this infection can spread it to between 2 and 3.5 others. One study found that the rate was higher, with one case spreading to between 4.7 and 6.6 other people. Comparetively, one person who has the seasonal flu will pass it to between 1.1 and 2.3 others.
The CDC reports it is evident that COVID-19 can be transmitted if you get within 6 feet of someone who is infectious for a total of 15 minutes throughout a day. It had earlier been believed the exposure had to be 15 minutes at a time.
We can work to reduce the transmission rate by washing hands often, keeping common surfaces clean and disinfected, limiting or avoiding contact with other people, and wearing cloth face masks when we can’t stay 6 feet away from others.
Can coronavirus be transmitted through groceries, packages, or food?
You have much more risk to get COVID-19 from another person than from packages, groceries, or food. If you’re in a high-risk group, stay home and use a delivery service . Tell them ro leave the items outside your front door, if you can. If you do your own shopping, wear and cloth face mask and try to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after bringing things into your home. The coronavirus can stay on hard surfaces, so clean and disinfect everything your bags have touched. You can clean plastic, metal, or glass packaging with soap and water if you want.
There’s no evidence that anyone has infected with COVID-19 from food or food containers.
Call your doctor or local health department immediately if you think you’ve been exposed to the infection and have symptoms such as:
- Fever of 100 F or higher
- Trouble breathing or short breath
In most states, testing facilities have become more readily available. While some require an appointment, others can simply recover.
A swab test is the most common method to test for COVID-19. It checks for signs of the virus in your upper respiratory tract. The person giving the test puts a swab in the nose to get a sample from the back of your nose and throat. That sample usually goes to a lab that checks for viral material, but some areas may have rapid tests that give results in just 15 minutes.
If there are signs of the virus, the test is positive. A negative test could means there is no infection or there wasn’t enough virus to determine. That can happen initially in an infection. It usually takes 24 hours to get results, but the tests must be collected, stored , transported to a lab, and processed.
A swab test can only tell whether you have the virus in your body at that instant. But you may also consider taking an antibody test which can show whether you’ve ever been infected with the virus, even if you didn’t have any symptoms. This is necessary in officials’ efforts to know how widespread COVID-19 is. In time, it might also help them find out who is immune to the virus.
The FDA is working with laboratories all over the world to develop more tests.
Take these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based sanitizer. This distroys viruses on your hands.
- Practice social distancing. Because you can have and spread the virus without knowing it, you should stay home as much as possible. If you do have to go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Cover your nose and mouth in public. If you have COVID-19, you can spread it even if you don’t feel sick. Wear a cloth face covering to protect others. This isn’t a replacement for social distancing. You still need to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and those around you. Don’t use a face mask meant for health care workers. And don’t put a face covering on anyone who is:
- Under 2 years old
- Unconscious or can’t remove the mask on their own for other reasons
- Don’t touch your face. Coronaviruses can live on surfaces you touch for several hours. If they get on your hands and you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, they can get into your body.
- Clean and disinfect. You can clean first with soap and water, but disinfect surfaces you touch often, like tables, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Use a mix of household bleach and water (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water) or a household cleaner that’s approved to treat SARS-CoV-2. You can check the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website to see if yours made the list. Wear gloves when you clean and throw them away when you’re done.
There’s no proof that herbal therapies and teas can prevent infection.
COVID-19 preparation tips
In addition to practicing the prevention tips listed above, you can:
- Meet as a household or larger family to talk about who needs what.
- If you have people at a higher risk, ask their doctor what to do.
- Talk to your neighbors about emergency planning. Join your neighborhood chat group or website to stay in touch.
- Find community aid organizations that can help with health care, food delivery, and other supplies.
- Make an emergency contact list. Include family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, doctors, teachers, employers, and the local health department.
- Choose a room (or rooms) where you can keep someone who’s sick or who’s been exposed separate from the rest of you.
- Talk to your child’s school about keeping up with assignments.
- Set yourself up to work from home if your office is closed.
- Reach out to friends or family if you live alone. Make plans for them to check on you by phone, email, or video chat.
Can a face mask protect you from infection?
The CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face mask if you go out in public. If you are at home withsomeone who has been infected or exposed, you should wear it as well. A mask is an added layer of protection for everyone, on top of social distancing efforts. You can spread the virus when you talk or cough, even if you don’t know that you have it or if you aren’t showing signs of infection.
The CDC advises that surgical masks and N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers and first responders..
Is it safe to travel during a pandemic?
Crowded places can raise your chances of getting COVID-19. The CDC recommends against international or cruise ship travel during the pandemic.
A few questions may help you decide whether it’s safe to travel in the United States:
- Is the coronavirus spreading where you’re going?
- Will you have close contact with other people during the trip?
- Are you at higher risk of severe illness if you catch the virus?
- Do you live with someone who has a serious medical condition?
- Will the place where you’ll be staying be cleaned?
- Will you have access to food and other necessities?
If you choose to travel, stay away from sick people. Wash your hands often, and try not to touch your face. Wear a cloth face mask when you’ll be around other people. Some airlines require all customers to use them.
How can you help stop the spread of the coronavirus?
Because the virus spreads from person to person, it’s important to limit your contact with other people as much as possible. and avoid large gatherings. Many states and cities have eased restrictions and have allowed businesses to reopen. This doesn’t mean the virus is gone. Continue to follow safety practices such as wearing a cloth face mask in public places.
While many companies have adopted work-from-home practices, that is not possible for a lot of workers. Some people work in “essential businesses” that are vital to daily life, such as health care, law enforcement, and public utilities. Everyone else should stay home as much as you can and wear a cloth face mask when you can’t.
The following terms have now become commonplace:
- Social distancing or physical distancing, keeping space between yourself and other people when you have to go out
- Quarantine, keeping someone home and separated from other people if they might have been exposed to the virus
- Isolation, keeping sick people away from healthy people, including using a separate “sick” bedroom and bathroom when possible
There’s no specific treatment for COVID-19. People who get a mild case need care to ease their symptoms, like rest, fluids, and fever control. Take over-the-counter medicine for a sore throat, body aches, and fever. But don’t give aspirin to children or teens younger than 19.
You might have heard that you shouldn’t take ibuprofen to treat COVID-19 symptoms. But the National Institutes of Health says people who have the virus can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen as usual.
Antibiotics won’t help because they treat bacteria, not viruses. If you hear about people with COVID-19 getting antibiotics, it’s for an infection that came along with the disease.
People with severe symptoms need to be cared for in the hospital.
The antiviral medication called remdesivir (Veklury) is the first medication to get FDA approval for treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Originally developed to treat Ebola, evidence shows that those treated with remdesivir recovered in about 11 days compared to 15 days for those treated with a placebo.
Many clinical trials are under way to explore treatments used for other conditions that could fight COVID-19 and to develop new ones.
For instance, trials are under way for tocilizumab, another medication used to treat autoimmune conditions. And the FDA is also allowing clinical trials and hospital use of blood plasma from people who’ve had COVID-19 and recovered to help others build immunity. You’ll hear this called convalescent plasma. Currently, evidence of its effectiveness is limited.
Early in the pandemic, the anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were considered as possible treatments. The FDA later rescinded an emergency use order because studies found that the drugs were ineffetive and the risks outweighed the benefits.
A variety of steroid medications are being used including dexamethasone which is used to treat conditions such as arthritis, blood/hormone/immune system disorders, allergic reactions,. More studies on effectiveness are still being conducted.
Is there a cure for the new coronavirus?
There’s no cure yet, but researchers are working hard to find one.