Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spread, Symptoms, and Treatment
Coronavirus or COVID-19 has recently emerged as the new alarming word in the world. With a rising number of affected people across the world, the situation is becoming more critical by the day. The terms like “deadly”, “fatal”, and “noxious” are being used more and more often now in reference to COVID-19.
It is said that the virus originated in Wuhan, a Chinese city in Hubei province. It has a population of 11 million. The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, situated in Wuhan was implicated with the outbreak and spread of COVID-19. The market sells fish along with a panoply of other meat types. Some of the other animals include snakes, bats, pangolins, and so on.
With the amount of discussion going on about the said virus, it’s hard to tell myths and facts apart. Let’s get enlightened about everything related to coronavirus.
What is Coronavirus?
Since the anatomy of the said virus looks like a spiked ring, a halo, or a crown under an electron microscope, we now know where the name comes from. Coronaviruses come from a family of viruses called Coronaviridae. They may cause illnesses related to the respiratory system in humans. This ranges from common colds to more severe respiratory conditions like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).
The Novel coronavirus that is the talk of the town now is a previously unidentified strain of this family of viruses. Remember, the novel coronavirus from Wuhan has now been termed as SARS-CoV-2 officially. And, the disease that is caused by SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus is termed COVID-19.
The Course of Action
WHO has officially identified COVID-19 as a pandemic loosely defined as “a worldwide outbreak of a new disease.” Take a look at these basic facts:
- Coronavirus contains a single strand of RNA and not DNA, which is a double strand.
- The virus is unable to reproduce unless it is inside living cells. Once they reside in a living cell, they hijack its machinery.
- The viral envelopes have spikes on them, which help them to bind to the living cells, giving them a way in.
- Once it enters inside a living body, RNA along with a few enzymes uses the molecular machinery of the cell to multiply the virus.
- The multiplied viruses are then shipped out in the body to infect more cells.
- And the whole cycle starts anew.
Another interesting fact about the hardiness of this virus is that it can survive outside a living body on a surface for 9 days.
How Does This Pandemic Spread?
The COVID-19 is a droplet epidemic that spreads from one person to another. Officials and medical experts are still not sure about the exact causes of this virus outbreak. While scientists think that MERS began with camels and SARS started with civet cats, no one is sure about which animals are involved in Coronavirus outburst in Wuhan. Scientists have already confirmed human-to-human transmission for Wuhan coronavirus. Here are the three main modes of this virus spread:
- Close contact with infected individuals.
- Respiratory droplets, which spread through sneezing or coughing of an infected person.
- Although it is not a primary way of virus spread, you can catch it by touching an object or a surface that is contaminated and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes.
Since the virus spreads by the infected people’s secretions, caregivers can be exposed to the virus by handling the patient’s waste. MERS and SARS were mostly transmitted inside the hospitals. Scientists and doctors are unable to figure out who are the “super-spreaders” in the case of coronavirus.
The Range of COVID-19 Spread and Exposure
As of March 2020, the following are the statistics of this latest virus outbreak:
- More than 95,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.
- Of 95,000 cases, 3,381 people have died.
- Most of the people infected are in China.
- The virus has now spread to around 88 countries.
- Just like in MERS and SARS, older people are more vulnerable and are more severely affected by the coronavirus.
- There are no confirmed cases for children in Wuhan.
- The average age of people affected by coronavirus is 40 or above.
Signs and Symptoms
With the progress of the said disease, patients came down with pneumonia. It causes inflammation of the lungs and causes them to fill up with fluid which an X-ray can easily detect. Symptoms begin to show up somewhere from 2 to 14 days after the patient has been exposed to the virus.
Older people and those who have a medical condition such as diabetes and heart diseases are more susceptible to COVID-19. They are more likely to severe respiratory complications and symptoms.
Since COVID-19 is swiftly crossing the borders, it’s important to be acquainted and enlightened about the symptoms. An important thing to know is that the symptoms are similar to those of mild pneumonia. Some have shown severe symptoms too. A few common ones include:
- Dry cough.
- Elevated body temperature, fever.
- Muscle pains and fatigue.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Short breath.
- Nasal congestion.
- Sore throat.
- Runny nose.
Some less common symptoms are:
- Coughing up blood or mucus.
- Kidney failure.
Precautionary Measures to Take These Days
Avoiding exposure to the virus has to be the best preventive and preventative measure. You need to be vigilant about taking some essential cautionary and preemptive steps. Think of trying not to catch a respiratory disease, cough, or flu. Also, consider the following:
- Avoid physical contact with sick people, especially those who display similar symptoms.
- Wash your hands with water and soap more frequently than before.
- If you live in a place with a scarcity of water, use alcohol-based sanitizers.
- When your hands are unwashed, avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- While sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth with a bent elbow or a tissue. Dispose of that tissue immediately.
- If you feel unwell and show some similar symptoms, stay home.
- A medical mask is not essential if you have no respiratory symptoms like a cough.
- If you are a caregiver for a COVID-19 patient, the mask is mandatory.
Consider hand hygiene the most important precautionary measure at the moment!
Measures to Take If You Suspect That You are Infected
The identification of COVID-19 is challenging because the symptoms are pretty similar to the cold and flu. However, if you suspect that it’s the coronavirus, seek medical care first thing. Also, follow the following guidelines to reduce the chances of infecting others:
- Restrict all your outdoor activities.
- Stay at home and preferably in a separate room.
- Don’t let others in the family use the dame bathroom as yours.
- Clean and disinfect the surfaces and objects that you touch.
- Try to track your symptoms accurately and provide all the essential info to the medical personnel.
Are There Any Vaccines, Drugs, or Treatments?
Against coronaviruses, there is no recognized therapeutic treatment. As of now, there are no drugs, vaccinations, or vaccines to treat this novel virus. The only medical care the patients are receiving are steps to alleviate and relieve the symptoms that they have with the aid of pain and fever medication. Other things, which are helping caretakers are hot showers and room humidifiers. However, research is underway.
Coronaviruses, as a family, are hardy organisms. They are reported to effectively hide from the immunity system in humans and as such there are no reliable vaccines or treatments to eradicate them. The patients are advised to drink plenty of water and fluids. They should focus on getting rest and sleep as much as they can to improve immunity.
Vaccines are not an impossibility. As of now, Chinese scientists have been able to quickly sequence the genetic code of the virus. This will give a chance to the scientists to analyze the code and start looking for ways to combat it. After all, that’s how all vaccinations in history were created. According to CNN, a vaccine is already in process at the National Institutes of Health in the US. However, the release is expected in a year’s time.
For now, they are focusing on controlling the epidemic without drugs and vaccines, using methods like case isolation, enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, and so on.
Rumors and Myths
Whenever an unforeseen pandemic spreads, many myths and rumors do too about it. This is not good for societies trying to control and prevent an epidemic. Also, such myths escalate the tension and lead to ineffective methods of prevention and control.
For instance, one common myth about Coronavirus is that it originated from bat soup. This is not true. Another myth is that everyone, infected or not, needs to essentially wear a mask to survive. While governments have closed the borders and flights from other countries in the name of a preemptive measure, this step is also ineffective. Check out the following video by medical experts to debunk various myths circulating the CORVID-19 outburst.
To conclude, we would recommend taking good care of your hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly and be mindful of dispersing any droplets with coughing or sneezing. So take care to cover your mouth and nose when you do so. Stay clean and keep this pandemic away. Good luck!