A new virus called the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been identified as the cause of a disease outbreak that occurred in China in 2019. The disease is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This virus is a type of coronavirus — a family of viruses that can cause ailments such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Cases of COVID-19 have been reported in a growing number of countries, including the U.S, Italy, India, Spain and Russia. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Coronavirus a global pandemic in March 2020.
How does COVID-19 spread?
It is postulated that the COVID-19 virus spreads through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Hence, it’s crucial you practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
According to WHO, the COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment. People who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death.
Common symptoms include:
- dry cough
Other symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
- aches and pains
- and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.
People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.
People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.
Can COVID-19 be prevented or treated?
Currently, there’s no vaccine to treat COVID-19. Treatment is directed at relieving symptoms.
How to protect yourself from the Coronavirus?
To prevent infection and to slow transmission of COVID-19, practice the following:
- Maintain personal hygiene
- Wash your hands with soap frequently
- Wash your hands, ‘after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, before & after preparing and eating food, and toilet use’
- Use a handkerchief while sneezing or coughing
- Even when your hands look visibly clean, wash them with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- Use a mask in open-public spaces
- Change your mask often. DO NOT continue to use the same mask throughout the day
- Discard the tissue and mask immediately post-use
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, maintaining a distance of at least 1 metre.
- Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
- Practice physical and social distancing by avoiding non-essential travel and staying away from large groups of people.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Starting 25 March 2020, India has entered ‘total lockdown’ after a spike in cases. We urge you to ban venturing out of your homes. Social distancing is the only way to break the cycle of infection. Stay safe!