The novel coronavirus has caused 2595 deaths in China, the place of its origin as per the latest report from WHO. Also, there have been 79,331 confirmed cases across 29 countries, forcing the WHO to declare it a global emergency. But what exactly is the virus, and what are the treatment options available? Read on to know all about this outbreak.
What is coronavirus?
The coronavirus is a family of viruses that are present in animals. When they jump from animals to humans, they cause illnesses that range from the common cold to serious disorders like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome).
The virus causing the recent outbreak has been named ‘SARS-CoV-2’, and the disease it causes is known as ‘Coronavirus disease 2019’ abbreviated as COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
Though there are no symptoms specific to the virus, WHO advises you to approach a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms-
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
In more severe cases, the virus might affect your lungs and cause pneumonia, or cause the failure of the kidneys. It is also found to lead to the development of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in advanced stages.
The incubation period of the virus can last up to 14 days. However, coronavirus symptoms can appear 2-14 days after the virus infects your body.
How do you diagnose COVID-19?
If you suspect that you have contracted the virus, reach out to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend several tests to diagnose your condition. These tests may include taking a sample of your saliva (sputum), a nasal swab and a throat swab, to send to specially-equipped centres for testing the presence of the virus.
Call up the hospital before making an appointment with the doctor and provide details of your travel history. If the need arises, they will make the necessary arrangements for your treatment before you visit the hospital.
What are the treatment options?
Several vaccines are being developed for the virus with many of them in the testing phase. However, there are no treatment options for the infection as of yet.
Treatment for the disease mainly involves treating the symptoms caused by the virus. Medications used include-
- Pain relievers
- Cough syrup and other medication
- Increased fluid intake
What precautions should you take?
The WHO and other health organisations have come out with a set of precautionary guidelines that might keep you safe in the time of this outbreak -
- Wash your hands - Washing hands is part of basic hygiene which can help kill the viruses on your hands. You must wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with an alcohol-based soap or sanitizer before eating, after using the washroom, after sneezing or coughing, and after coming home from outside.
- Practice respiratory hygiene - Make sure to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, preferably with a tissue. Discard it in a dustbin immediately after use. In the absence of a tissue, cough into the groove made by flexing your elbow.
- Maintain distance - Keep a distance of at least 1 metre between you and anyone else who is coughing or sneezing. This is because the droplets that come out of the mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze contain small liquid droplets that may contain viruses including the coronavirus. In case you are too close, you might breathe in the virus if the person is suffering from the disease.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with your hands - Your hands regularly come into contact with surfaces on which the virus might be present. When you touch your mouth, nose or eyes, the virus can gain entry into your body.
- Seek medical attention if you are unwell - If you have a temperature, along with a cough or cold and difficulty in breathing, seek medical attention at the earliest. You should not delay or self-medicate. It might aggravate the condition.
- Keep yourself up-to-date - Keep yourself up-to-date with information from verified sources like the official sites and handles of WHO (World Health Organisation), CDC (Centre for Disease Control), and NHP (National Health Portal) India. Follow your medical practitioners’ advice if you are unwell and are suffering from any illness.
In case you have travelled to any country with confirmed cases of coronavirus, you need to take the following precautionary measures
- Stay at home if you are feeling uneasy. Even if you are suffering from seemingly minor illnesses like a runny nose or a headache, you need to stay at home so that you do not spread the virus.
- If you develop symptoms of the virus, reach out to your doctor immediately. Before going to the clinic, inform the staff so that they can take precautionary measures beforehand to avoid the possible spread of the virus in case you are infected.
SOURCE - WHO