If you’ve been following the news lately, you would know that a deadly virus, originating in China, is spreading rapidly across the world. The coronavirus, named COVID-19, has spread to numerous countries with fatalities in the thousands. As we know now, the virus has also made its way to Delhi and Telangana.
With the number of cases multiplying by the hundreds every day, we need to be extra careful about ourselves and the people around us. We need to be hyper vigilant about the symptoms and any signs of a flu-like illness. The rapid spread of the virus is posing never-seen-before challenges for healthcare professionals across the world.
Here are a few challenges and concerns that you should know:
1. No treatment yet
Since this is a novel coronavirus, i.e. a new virus, it doesn’t have a cure yet. Antibiotics don’t work because this is not bacteria. SARS was also a novel coronavirus with no cure when it first started spreading. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, “People infected should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.”
2. People without symptoms can be contagious too
Chinese officials say that this new coronavirus is infectious in its incubation period as well, before symptoms show. The incubation period, they say, can be in a range from one to 14 days. As a BBC report points out, SARS and Ebola, also deadly outbreaks, were contagious only when symptoms started appearing.
3. Hard to contain even with closed borders
Since people without symptoms can travel freely, this virus is hard to contain even with the strictest lockdowns. While healthcare professionals had earlier dismissed human-to-human transmission, this is now more likely as doctors and other medical personnel have also been infected.
4. Five million people left Wuhan before the lockdown
The mayor of Wuhan says that approximately five million people, potentially infected with this virus, left Wuhan before the city was sealed. With human-to-human transmission now a real likelihood, this number is mindnumbingly scary.
5. A compromised immunity could be really dangerous with this virus
Being infected with this coronavirus doesn’t mean that you will land up in hospital. Most of the people being hospitalised, according to The Guardian, seem to be over the age of 40 or those with underlying conditions. The symptoms can be mild for younger people, but older people need to be careful. Pneumonia and eventual organ failure has, so far, been seen more in older victims of the virus. With underlying conditions, the immune system can weaken, making it easier for the virus to attack.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Wash your hands, often and vigorously with soap and water
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- Avoid unnecessary close physical contact with anyone, especially if they have flu-like symptoms
- If you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth with a tissue and discard the tissue. You can also use your sleeve but don’t use your bare hands.
- Disinfect the house often
- Stay in bed if you’re sick and avoid meeting anyone
- Avoid coming in contact with uncooked meat, animals or animal markets
- Seek immediate medical attention if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing
- Avoid all non-essential travel and crowded areas
The virus is still spreading, and new information about this outbreak is being released every day. We advise you not to take this lightly and follow all advisories, whether or not you’re sick.