What Is COVID-19?
A coronavirus is a major family of common viruses which causes an infection in the airways such as the nose, sinuses or throat. The majority of coronaviruses are not that dangerous.(1)
At the beginning of 2020, following an outbreak in China in December 2019, the World Health Organization determined that SARS-CoV-2 was a novel form of coronavirus. The epidemic has spread all over the world.
COVID-19 is a condition caused by SARS-CoV-2 that can trigger what physicians call a respiratory tract infection. It may infect the upper airway (sinus, nose and throat) or lower airway (trachea and lungs).
It spreads like other coronaviruses, usually in person-to-person contact. Infections may be minor or life-threatening.
SARS-CoV-2 is one of seven types of coronaviruses, including those that cause serious and fatal diseases Examples include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Other coronaviruses cause most of our colds throughout the year, but are not as serious a threat to otherwise healthy people.
Is there more than one strain of SARS-CoV-2?
One Chinese study of 103 cases of COVID-19 identified two strains, called L and S. Strain S is older, but type L was more common at the beginning of the outbreak. They believe that one may cause more cases of illness than the other, but they are still working on what all this means. It’s also common for a virus to mutate, because it infects people, and that’s what the virus has done. So many variations have been named on the basis of regions that they have been discovered for the first time, but they have now spread to other regions and countries.
How long will the coronavirus last?
We don’t know when this pandemic is going to end. There are many factors, which include researchers or physicians working to know more about the virus, their research on treatment, the success and effectiveness of vaccines, and people’s efforts in reducing transmission.
Symptoms of COVID-19
The most common symptoms are:
- Body pain
- Sore throat
- difficulty breathing
- Chills, sometimes with shaking
- Congestion/runny nose
- Loss of smell/taste
It can also lead to pneumonia, heart problems, respiratory failure, liver problems, septic shock and death. Numerous complications related to COVID-19 can be caused by a condition called cytokine release syndrome or a cytokine storm. As a result, an infection activates your immune system to release inflammatory proteins called cytokines into the bloodstream. They can kill tissue and destroy your organs.
If you or your family experience these serious symptoms, consult a physician immediately:
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.
- chest pain or sensation of pressure within the chest.
- New confusion
- Can’t wake up completely
- Lips and blush face.
There are also reports of strokes in some individuals with COVID-19:
- Face. Is one side of a person’s face numb or drowsy? Is their smile lopsided?
- Arms. Is an arm weakness or numbness? If they try to raise both arms, will an arm fall?
- Speech. Don’t they speak clearly? Ask them to say one more again.
- Time. Each minute is important when somebody is showing signs of a stroke.
If you become infected, symptoms may appear in less than 2 days or up to 14 days. It’s different for every person.
According to Chinese researchers, these symptoms were most common among those with COVID-19:
- Lack of appetite 40%
- Body aches 35%
- Shortness of breath 31%
- Fever 99%
- Fatigue 70%
- Cough 59%
- Mucus/phlegm 27%
Some people hospitalised as a result of COVID-19 also have threatening blood clots in their legs, lungs and arteries.
What to do if you think you have it
If you live or have travelled in a region with widespread COVID-19:
- If you don’t feel well, stay home. Even though you may have mild symptoms such as a headache and runny nose, stay quarentized until you feel better. This helps doctors focus on the more serious individuals and protects health care workers and people you may encounter along the way. Try to remain in a separate room away from others in your home.
- Call the doctor if you have trouble breathing. You require immediate medical assistance. If you are not a regular physician, call your local health authority. They can provide suggestions on where to go for testing and treatment.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and keep up with the news on COVID-19. This will make it easy for you to defeat the disease.
How do I know if it’s COVID-19, a cold, or the flu?
Signs and symptom of COVID-19 can look like a bad cold or flu. Your doctor will doubt COVID-19 if:
- You got the fever and the cough.
- You have been exposed to infected persons within the past 14 days.
Causes of the New Coronavirus
Researchers do not know the exact reason. There are several types of coronavirus. They are commonly found in humans and animals, including bats, camels, cats and cattle. SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is similar to MERS and SARS. Virus came in human from bats.
Coronavirus Risk Factors
Everyone can be infected by COVID-19, and most infections are mild. As you get older, there is a greater risk of serious illness.(2)
You are also at a higher risk of developing a serious disease if you have any of the following complications:
- Chronic renal disease.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Lower immune system from organ transplantation.
- Over weight
- Serious heart problems such as cardiac insufficiency or coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Type 2 diabetes
The following conditions may cause a serious illness related to COVID-19:
- Liver disease
- Mild to serious asthma.
- Conditions that affect your blood vessels and blood flow to your brain.
- Cystic fibrosis
- Decreased immunity due to blood or bone marrow transplantation, HIV or medicines such as corticosteroids.
- Affected lung tissue (pulmonary fibrosis)
- Type 1 diabetes
How does the coronavirus spread?
It is usually spread by coughing or sneezing by the infected person. Droplets may be released up to six feet apart. If you inhale or swallow them, the virus can get inside your body. Some people with the infection but no symptoms may still transmit the virus.
You may also catch the virus by touching a surface or object where the virus is present, and then touching your mouth, nose, or likely eyes. Most viruses are able to survive for several hours on a surface where they land. Research shows that SARS-CoV-2 may last several hours on different surfaces:
- Copper – 4 hours
- Plastic or stainless steel – 2 to 3 days
- Cardboard – up to 24 hours
Therefore, surfaces must be disinfected to remove the virus.
A number of dogs and cats have been infected by the virus. Some of them showed signs of getting sick. While there is no evidence that humans can catch this coronavirus from an animal, it is believed that it can be transmitted from humans to animals.
What is community spread?
Physicians and health care providers use this term when they do not know where the infection is coming from. In the case of COVID-19, this generally means that a person is infected with the virus even though they did not travel outside the country or have not been exposed or have not been in contact with anyone who has traveled internationally or has this infection.
How contagious is the coronavirus?
The transfer rate is quite high. Initial research has estimated that someone with this infection can spread it another 2 to 3.5 times. A study found that the rate was higher, with 1 case ranging from 4.7 to 6.6 other people. In comparison, a person suffering from the seasonal flu will transmit it another 1.1 to 2.3 times.
According to the CDC, obviously COVID-19 can be transmitted if you are less than 6 feet away from someone who is communicable for a total of 15 minutes throughout the day. We had already assumed that the exposure would last 15 minutes at a time.
We can work to lower the rate of transmission by frequently washing our hands, keeping common surfaces clean and disinfected, limit or avoid contact with others, and wear fabric masks when we cannot stay within one metre of others.
Can coronavirus be transmitted through groceries, packages, or food?
You are far more likely to experience COVID-19 from someone other than through parcels, groceries or food. If you are a member of a high-risk group, remain at home and use a delivery service. Ask them to leave the objects at your door, if you can. If you are making your own purchases, wear and fabric mask and try to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Wash your hands at least 20 seconds before and after taking something home. The coronavirus may remain on hard surfaces, so clean and sanitize all that your bags have touched. Plastic, metal or glass packaging can be cleaned with soap and water if required.
There is no evidence that a person has been affected by COVID-19 from food or food containers.
Call your local physician or health unit immediately if you believe you have been exposed to the infection and have symptoms such as:
- Fever of 100F or greater.
- Difficulty breathing or breathlessness.
In most countries, testing facilities have become more accessible. Although some may need an appointment, others may simply recover.
A swab test is the most commonly used method of screening for COVID-19. It detects symptoms of the virus in your upper airways. The person doing the test puts a cotton swab into the nose to collect a sample at the back of the nose and throat. This sample is usually sent to a laboratory that verifies the viral material, but some regions may have quick tests that yield results in just 15 minutes.
If it is found, the test is positive. A negative test may indicate that there is no infection or that there is not enough virus to determine this. This can occur initially during an infection. It generally takes 24 hours to obtain the results, but the tests must be collected, stored, transported to a laboratory and treated.
A swab test will only determine if the virus is present in your body at this point. But you may also want to consider doing an antibody test that may show if you have already been infected with the virus, even without any symptoms. This is necessary in the efforts of government officials to determine how prevalent COVID-19 is. Over time, this could also help them discover who is immunized against the virus.
The FDA is working with labs around the world to expand testing.
Do those steps:
- Wash your hands. often with soap and water or wash with an alcohol-based sanitizer. The virus distroys in your hands.
- Practise social distancing. As you can pass on the virus unknowingly, you should stay home as long as possible. If you’re going out, stay at least six feet away from the others.
- Cover your nose and mouth in front of a crowd. If you are suffering from COVID-19, you may spread it even if you do not feel sick. Wear a fabric facemask to protect others. This does not replace societal distancing. You always need to keep 6 feet apart from the people around you. Do not use a respirator for healthcare workers. And don’t put a mask on somebody who says,
- Not more than two years old.
- Unconscious or unable to take the mask off by itself for other reasons.
- Don’t touch your face. Coronaviruses are able to live on surfaces that you touch for a few hours. If they stand over your hands and you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, they can penetrate your body.
- Clean and disinfect. You can first clean with soap and water, but disinfect the surfaces you frequently touch, such as tables, door handles, switches, toilets, taps and sinks. Apply a mixture of household bleach and water (1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 tablespoons of bleach per litre of water) or a household cleaner approved for SARS-CoV-2. You can verify it Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make sure yours is on the list. Wear gloves when cleaning and dispose of them when you have finished.
There is no evidence that phytotherapies and teas are effective in preventing infection.
COVID-19 preparation tips
Along with the prevention tips mentioned above, you can:
- Get together as a home or extended family to discuss who needs what.
- If people are at higher risk, talk to their physician about what to do.
- Tell your neighbours about emergency planning. Connect with your neighbourhood chat group or website to stay connected.
- Identify community support agencies that can assist in providing health care, food and other supplies.
- Put together a list of emergency contacts. Include family, friends, neighbours, ride-sharing drivers, physicians, teachers, employers and the local health department.
- Choose a room (or parts) where you can keep a person ill or has been exposed separately from the rest of you.
- Speak with your child’s school to find out how to follow the homework.
- Be prepared to do homework if your office is closed.
- Communicate with your friends and family if living alone. Make plans to have them check you out by telephone, e-mail or videoconference.
Can a face mask protect you fropm infection?
The CDC advises you to wear a cloth mask if you are out in public. If you’re at home with someone who’s been infected or exposed, you should wear them as well. A mask is an extra level of protection for everybody, in addition to social distancing efforts. You may transmit the virus when you speak or cough, even if you do not know you have it or if you do not show any signs of infection.
CDC recommends that surgical masks and N95 masks should be restricted to health care workers and first responders.
Is it safe to travel during a pandemic?
Overcrowded locations can increase your likelihood of being impacted by COVID-19. The CDC recommends that you do not travel abroad or cruise during the pandemic.
Some questions can help you determine if you can safely travel to the U.S.:
- Does it spread to where you’re going?
- Are you going to be in close contact with others during the trip?
- Do you have a higher risk of serious disease if you become infected with the virus?
- Are you living with a person who has a serious health problem?
- Will your home be cleaned out?
- Are you going to have access to food and other basic items?
If you choose to travel, avoid people with ill health. Clean your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Put on a cloth mask when you’re around others. Some airlines require everyone to use it.
How can you help stop the spread of the coronavirus?
As the virus travels from person to person, it is important to minimize your contact with other people. and not to have big meetings. Many states and cities have relaxed restrictions and made it possible for businesses to re-open. Doesn’t mean the virus has disappeared. Continue to follow security practices such as wearing a fabric mask in public spaces.
Even though many companies have adopted homeworking practices, this is not possible for many workers. Some people work in “essential enterprises” which are vital for everyday life, such as healthcare, law enforcement and public services. All others should stay home as much as possible and wear a cloth mask where this is not possible.
The following terms are widely used:
- Social distancing or physical distancing, Keep space between you and others when you need to go outside.
- Quarantine, keep a person at home and away from anyone else if they have been exposed to the virus.
- Isolation, Keep sick persons away from healthy persons, including the use of a separate bedroom and bathroom whenever possible.
COVID-19 does not have a specific treatment. People who have a mild case need treatment to relieve their symptoms, such as rest, fluids and fever control. Take non-prescription medication for sore throat, aches and fever. But do not give aspirin to youth under 19 years old.
You may be aware that ibuprofen should not be used to treat symptoms of COVID-19. But according to the National Institutes of Health, people infected by the virus can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen as normal.
Antibiotics are not helpful because they cure bacteria, not viruses. If you hear of people suffering from COVID-19 receiving antibiotics, it is because of an infection that accompanied the disease.
People who have serious symptoms should be treated at the hospital.
The antiviral drug remdesivir (Veklury) is the first drug to receive FDA approval for inpatient treatment due to COVID-19. Initially developed to treat Ebola, the data show that people treated with remdesivir recovered in about 11 days, compared to 15 days for those treated with placebo.
Numerous clinical trials are underway to explore treatments for other COVID-19-related diseases and develop new ones.
For example, trials are underway for tocilizumab, another drug used to treat auto-immune disorders. And the FDA also allows for clinical trials and hospital use of blood plasma from people who have contracted COVID-19 and are recovering to help other people improve their immunity. You will hear what is known as convalescent plasma. At present, there is limited proof of its effectiveness.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were identified as possible treatments. The FDA later cancelled an emergency order because studies showed that the drugs were ineffective and that the risks outweighed the benefits.
A variety of steroids are used, including dexamethasone that is used to treat conditions such as arthritis, blood/ hormones/ immune system disturbances, allergic reactions. Further studies on efficiency are still in progress.
Is there a cure for the new coronavirus?
There is not yet a cure, but the researchers are trying to find a cure.