The Corona-virus global pandemic of 2020 is the single largest Public Health and Safety risk that the world has seen since World War 2. In over 150 countries of the world, the virus has ravaged through entire cities, towns and provinces killing people or leaving them struggling with the infection. It has brought together lakhs of doctors, nurses, medical workers, police, paramilitary and government personnel, like no other crisis has done so far, not even the two world wars. First, second and third world countries have all been equally affected making the pandemic the single largest equalizer in world history.
Corona is the Latin word for crown, and when viewed under the microscope, the virus appears to have a crown-like structure. Incidentally, Corona-virus is not a single virus but a family of viruses that cause various respiratory conditions ranging from common cold to what caused the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012.
The particular strain of virus which has caused the present crisis was initially named ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome corona-virus 2’ or SARS-CoV-2 by The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. It was later renamed to Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Causes of Corona Virus
The exact origin of the virus and cause of the crisis is shrouded in mystery and controversy. While various conspiracy theories are popular on social media, the Covid-19 seems to have originated from the wet markets of Wuhan city in Hubei province of China. A popular theory is that viruses were passed on from infected bats to human beings when their meat was consumed.
When viruses enter the human body from an infected animal, they can mutate or genetically alter their structure and multiply rapidly in the infected person (host)’s body. You may recall the Swine flu and Avian flu outbreaks where the virus spread from pigs and birds to human beings.
Then what makes the Covid-19 so deadly? While every other virus known till date mutates slowly or in a limited way, this strain is known to mutate at a very rapid pace by which more contagious causes 4 stages of spread, or transmission happens.
Stage 1: Imported cases
Due to the people who have a travel history to an affected country and come in direct contact with infected people and have come back to India. They only test positive. No local transmission.
Stage 2: Local Transmission
The infected person returns home and transmits the virus to friends, family, neighbours and others who come in contact with him/her.
Stage 3: Community Transmission
When the source of the virus is untraceable. When a patient not exposed to any infected person or one who has not travelled to any of the affected countries tests positive. Large areas get affected when community transmission takes place.
Stage 4: Epidemic
Occurs when the spread of the virus goes out of control and there are many major clusters of infection all over the country.
How does Corona Spread
When an infected person coughs or sneezes; droplets of mucus or secretions containing the virus fall on various surfaces around him/her. When a healthy person touches this surface, the virus clings to his/her hands. Later, when the person touches his/her nose or mouth, the virus is inhaled or ingested into the body.
Risk Factors for severe disease
Those who are over 60 years of age and with a history of any of these: Cardio Vascular Disease, including Hypertension, Diabetes, Chronic Lung or Kidney Disease and any immune suppressive disorders. Most deaths fall under this category.
Symptoms of Corona Virus Infection
The WHO has issued clear guidelines to doctors on what are the symptoms of Covid-19 infection. While none of them are unique and can be caused by others, a doctor is best qualified to assess the underlying cause and take necessary action. So, consult a doctor when you notice any of these symptoms. Avoid self-medication and do not dismiss the symptoms lightly. You can put yourself and your family at risk.
The spectrum of the disease can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.
- Mild: 81 % of the cases fall under this category. Symptoms are similar to common Cold, and allergic rhinitis. The symptoms include fever, sore throat, running nose, dry cough, malaise and headache.
- Moderate: 14 % of the cases fall under this category. Symptoms include coughing, fever above 100.4, chills, a feeling that you don’t want to or can’t get out of bed, shortness of breath in-spite of no activity, confusion and drowsiness.
- Severe: Only 5% of the cases fall under this category. Symptoms include multi lobar pneumonia, secondary bacterial infections, leading up to septic shock — a significant drop in blood pressure that can lead to multi organ dysfunction, or death.
Treatment strategies for COVID19
Patients with mild symptoms, and non-high-risk category can be treated as outpatient basis with medications, home isolation for 28 days, with preventive measures to families during isolation period, with regular follow up by health care personnel on a daily basis for response/ worsening of the condition.
Patient with moderate to severe disease, and high-risk mild cases admitted as inpatient. These kinds of patients require close monitoring on treatment.
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Precautions to take to avoid contracting COVID19
All those who have had a travel history between Feb 1st week to March 2nd week of 2020 should mandatorily quarantine themselves and their immediate family members as per government instructions. This is because they may be asymptomatic carriers, that is, the virus may be there in their body but may not yet show any symptoms.
Self-quarantine means that the family must stay isolated in their home, with no or little contact with anybody outside. All the family members should wear masks at all times, inside the home, to limit the possibility of infection within the family. They should wash their hands repeatedly and avoid touching any part of their face.
The general public who do not have any travel history should follow social distancing. This includes staying at home unless one must go out to buy essentials. And when they step outside the home, go with a cloth mask and they should maintain a 1-metre distance from other people.
After returning home, they should wash their hands and feet with soap and water before entering the home. Vegetables and fruits should be washed with salt water mixed with turmeric. Inside the home, all members of the family should wash their hands with soap water for 20 seconds, as often as possible.
The virus can stay alive for a few hours to a day on materials like cloth, leather, metal, plastic and composites, so this includes practically every object or surface inside an enclosure. That is why, it’s imperative to wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds, as often as possible. Also, you should not touch your face unnecessarily.
Check Out – Coronavirus Web Screening
As many social media posts and government agencies have pointed out, more people die from accidents and other ailments, than the Covid-19. The virus is more contagious, less virulent and not deadly and kills only 5% of the high-risk people who are infected by it despite expert medical care. So, there is no cause for fear or panic.
Prevention is the only way to overcome the crisis. Take adequate precautions as described above, every day, all through the day. Rest assured, we can overcome the crisis in India better than what many countries of the world could.
THE VIRUS DOESN’T COMES TO OUR BODY, WE ONLY BRING THE VIRUS TO OUR BODY.
THREE MANTRAS OF PREVENTION