Coronavirus Disease: Overview
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a communicable disease instigated by a newly discovered virus called coronavirus. The majority of the people infected with coronavirus usually experience mild or moderate respiratory illness. Mostly, they recover without undergoing any special treatment. However, older people and those suffering from an underlying medical problem such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and cancer are more susceptible to developing a serious illness. The best way of preventing and slowing down the transmission of this disease is by being well-informed about the virus, its progression and its transmission. You can protect yourself against this disease by frequently washing and sanitising your hands. It is also recommended to avoid touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus primarily spreads through discharge from the nose or droplets of saliva when an infected person sneezes or coughs. So, it’s also very important to practice respiratory etiquette, for instance, coughing into a flexed elbow. At present, there are no specific treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. However, a number of ongoing clinical trials are evaluating potential treatments.
Coronavirus Disease Symptoms
The effect of coronavirus disease varies for different people. Since it is a respiratory disease, most of the infected people develop mild or moderate symptoms. These people recover easily without undergoing any special treatment. However, those with underlying medical problems and over the age of 60 are considerably more prone to developing severe disease that may lead to death.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease include:
- Dry cough
Some other symptoms can be present as well, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Aches and pains
- A few people also report nausea, diarrhoea or a runny nose
People who experience mild symptoms but are otherwise healthy are advised to self-isolate and get in touch with their medical provider. They can also contact a COVID-19 information helpline to ask for advice on referral and testing. Those suffering from fever, shortness of breath and cough should contact their doctor and seek medical attention immediately.
How to Avoid Getting Infected with Coronavirus?
Since there is no specific vaccine or treatment to cure this disease, the best way to deal with the coronavirus outbreak is to prevent getting infected at all. There are certain measures you can take to slow down the transmission and prevent infection of COVID-19. These measures include:
What to Do
- Either frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean them by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Doing this kills any viruses present on your hands and prevents spreading the infection.
- Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre between yourself and those coughing or sneezing. When someone sneezes or coughs, they release small liquid droplets from their mouth or nose, which may contain the virus. In case you are positioned too close to this person, you may breathe in these droplets including the virus. This can cause you to get infected. So, it is advised to keep a check on social distancing.
- Download the AarogyaSetu App. The Government of India has launched AarogyaSetu mobile application, which is available on both Android and iOS platform to empower people to assess themselves for the risk of catching the Coronavirus infection. The application through a Bluetooth and GPS generated social graph tracks your interaction with someone who could be COVID-19 positive. Once installed from the App Store, the application detects other devices with AarogyaSetu already installed that come in the radar of that phone. The app can then determine the risk of infection based on advanced parameters if any of the contacts are tested positive.
- Practice respiratory hygiene, which means remember to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Try to make sure that everyone around you does the same. Using a tissue or your bent elbow while coughing and sneezing is the easiest way to stop the virus from spreading. Maintaining good respiratory hygiene not only protects you against coronavirus but also prevents you from catching other illnesses like flu and cold.
- Stay at home if you feel even slightly unwell. If you experience any of the symptoms including fever, shortness of breath or cough, seek medical care immediately. Try to follow the directions issued by your local health authority.
- Try to stay as informed as possible on the latest developments related to COVID-19. Follow every piece of advice on the ways of protecting yourself and others against COVID-19 given by your local and national public health authority, your healthcare provider, or your employer. Local and national public health authorities usually have the most up-to-date information regarding the extent to which COVID-19 has spread in your particular area. Hence, they are best placed to give advice on how the people in your area can protect themselves against the disease.
- Practise food safety, for instances, use separate cutting boards for chopping meat and vegetables and make sure they are regularly cleaned with soap. Always clean your hands after handling raw food and prior to consuming cooked food. Only eat thoroughly cooked meat products as the heat eliminates any germs that may be present.
- If you live in an area affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, try to wear a Facemask every time before you head out. A face mask provides you with basic protection against any airborne infections and germs. Regardless of any symptoms or illnesses, a facemask is essential, especially in public transports and crowded places.
- Disinfect your home and keep it tidy at all times. Wash your towels and bedsheets, wipe down tabletops, counters, doorknobs, toilets, bathroom fixtures, phones and tables after every 2 days with soap water.
What Not to Do
- Avoid eating food from stalls or restaurants that do not have basic hygiene facilities such as sanitizer and hand wash.
- Avoid smoking and any other activities that may weaken or affect your lungs in any way. Since the virus majorly attacks an individual’s lungs, it is vital to maintain your health.
- Avoid unnecessary travel as travelling may include contact with many people. Since the virus tends to spread more easily at crowded places, it is advisable to stay away from any large groups of people. A few examples of social distancing include cancelling mass gatherings, closing schools, postponing conferences, visiting loved ones electronically instead of in-person and working from home.
In these testing times, it is immensely important to join hands and fight with this virus by staying at home. Utilise your time by indulging in activities that keep your mind and soul healthy, and take care.